MANCHESTER, N.H (CBS) – A 2-year-old girl who was the subject of a massive search in Manchester, New Hampshire Friday morning has been found safe.
Police Lt. Brian O’Keefe said Zoey Pena appears to have wandered away from her grandmother’s home on West Mitchell Street in the middle of the night. She had reportedly last seen by her family asleep in her crib around 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
The family called police around 3:30 a.m. when they realized she was missing.
State and local police searched for the girl for nearly six hours before she was found in a nearby home around 9:15 a.m.
Neighbors assumed the worst when they saw an ambulance show up.
“I saw that the officer was coming out and his back was to me. He had her and I could see her feet bouncing, and I thought she was dead,” neighbor Christine Dame said.
It turned out the ambulance was a sign of good news.
Zoey was put in an ambulance after she was found safe and taken to a local hospital for an examination, O’Keefe said. The girl is listed in good condition.
“I want to thank everyone from the core of my soul. People who don’t even know us were out in the cold trying to help. I want to thank them so much,” Geraldine Pena, the girl’s mother, said in a statement through Elliot Hospital.
A neighbor says Zoey’s family was hysterical.
“We heard screaming come across our lawn,” Claire Pelletier said. “They were just yelling her name, calling out. Trying to find her.”
Police believe Zoey wandered out the back door of her grandparents’ home in the middle of the night, but they are still investigating exactly what happened. Manchester Police said a Brown Ave. resident woke up and found the child inside her apartment.
Authorities went door-to-door in the neighborhood and New Hampshire State Police launched a helicopter to use it’s infra-red cameras to assist in the search.
Later Friday, police were seen searching through a car that was parked in the driveway of the home where the girl went missing from.