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Florida girl rescued from swamp 'doing remarkably well'

Nadia Bloom, 11, had spent four days in the alligator-infested area.

April 13, 2010|By Walter Pacheco and Gary Taylor
  • Nadia Bloom is carried in a black sling by rescuers.
Nadia Bloom is carried in a black sling by rescuers. (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel )

Reporting from Winter Springs, Fla. — An 11-year-old girl was being treated Tuesday for insect bites and dehydration in a Florida hospital after spending four days in alligator-infested woods and swampland.

Rescuers and other law enforcement officials carried Nadia Bloom out of the woods in a sling more than three hours after rescuer James King called 911 to report he had found her.

King, 44, of Orlando, Fla., was a volunteer searcher who is a member of Metro Church, where the child's family worships.

"I didn't all of a sudden see her," King said. "I was yelling, 'Nadia! Nadia!' and she said, 'What?' "

Nadia's father, Jeff, thanked the rescuers.

"It all came so fast, and it just shows the compassion of the human spirit. It should give everybody encouragement," he told reporters after rescue crews lifted his daughter into an ambulance. "I can't even describe it. Let's give the glory to God."

Nadia, who has an autism-related disorder called Asperger's syndrome, was covered in bug bites, her feet were waterlogged, and she was dehydrated, officials said. She was not wearing shoes when she was found, said officials, who described her as being in good condition.

Parents Jeff and Tanya, as well as younger sister Sophia, watched as Nadia was driven away to South Seminole Hospital in Longwood.

"She's smiling. Her vital [signs] are stable. She has some abrasions and bites. She is dehydrated and receiving [intravenous] fluids and wound care," said Dr. Rakesh Parekh, medical director at South Seminole. "She is doing remarkably well."

Parekh said the goal for doctors was to stabilize Nadia and make sure she hadn't suffered more serious injuries.

"We expect a short course in the hospital," he said.

Officials are interviewing King about what led him to Nadia and how he reached her. King has already told investigators that he walked into the large, wooded area from a spot near State Road 417 and found the girl on a dry patch of wetland.

King told reporters that faith led him to Nadia.

Winter Springs Police Chief Kevin Brunelle said King is a "hero to me right now." Brunelle said investigators had no reason to be suspicious of the rescue and that Nadia was found in an area that had not been cleared by the search teams.

Nadia said two things to rescuers: "I'm glad you guys found me" and "I can't believe you guys rescued me."

She also told investigators she had not seen or talked to anyone since she walked into the woods Friday afternoon.

wpacheco@

orlandosentinel.com

gtaylor@

orlandosentinel.com

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