Man who found missing little girl says God led him to her - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Man who found missing little girl says God led him to her

VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

An East Texas child is back with her family after she went missing for more than six hours Thursday.

The little girl, Zoey Smith, wandered off from her grandmother's home in Van Zandt County and wasn't found until a stranger, Jason Smith, and his son, spotted helicopters hovering around their property and went to investigate.

Jason took KLTV back to the very place where found Zoey. He says it's a miracle he found her considering he didn't even know what he was looking for.

"She came from.. I don't know how she ended up here.. and I don't know how we ended up finding her," says Jason.

Jason and Ivan Villegas trekked through brush, leaves, thorns, muddy water and uneven terrain.
They were flashing a light in every direction and listening in the dark.

"We wanted to give up three times, three times we stopped and three times we kept going," says Jason.

He says all they knew was authorities were looking for someone, but they didn't know who until they spotted a little girl, soaking wet, standing with her dog in the woods.

"She saw me and it's like almost for a split second, I saw a grin and I saw she was scared and I'm thinking she doesn't know where she's at. There's some stranger, but as soon as I got her, and I grabbed her close, it's like she knew she was safe," says Jason.

"She told me how old she was and she told me she wanted some tea. She said she wanted to go inside so we took her inside the house and that's when she told me her name," says Jason's wife Elsa Smith.

And sure enough the little girl was Zoey Smith...the three-year-old authorities had been searching for, for hours.  Authorities say Zoey chased the family's pit bull Brownie when he chased a raccoon.

Then she and the dog "played" from grandma's house on County Road 4207 all the way to the back of Jason and Elsa Smith's property on FM 2909.

"It wouldn't leave her side, apparently, when she was in the water. I don't know if she knows how to swim or if Brownie helped her but it wouldn't leave her side," said Van Zandt County Sheriff Pat Burnett.

"There is a God, I understand, I've always known that, but I'm thinking there was no way, no way humanly possible I would have ended up here tonight without somebody telling me," says Jason.

The Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office says they don't believe there were any signs of foul play in the girl's disappearance. Sheriff Burnett says it was as simple as a three-year-old quickly wandering out of her family's sight.

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