HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A mother and her child are safe after a terrifying night stranded in the woods. It all started as a tubing trip on a creek in Harrison County, but something went wrong.
A Memorial Day outing quickly turned from leisure to panic for Christie Leigh and her ten-year-old daughter, Breanna Reeder.
"This was my first float trip and I don't think I'll ever go on one again," said Leigh.
The pair took off on a tubing trip down a creek through the De Soto National Forest with three others on Monday. When a storm blew through, the mother and daughter found themselves separated from the rest of the group.
"Just try to find a tree line, that's all I could think about," said Leigh.
Leigh started desperately searching for landmarks or signs of civilization; paths, roads, bridges. But, the sun was starting to go down. She remembered her daughter making a suggestion once it got too dark to see.
"She just said, 'Mama, can we just stop here for the night, get some rest and then start off in the morning again?'" said Leigh.
So they did. The pair found a sandbank and rested. It was a decision Lieutenant Barry Delcambre with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks said may have saved their lives.
"They did exactly what they were supposed to do. So, right then, that gave us a better percentage of finding them," said Delcambre.
Meanwhile, rescue teams began the search. Before daybreak, the rest of Christie and Breanna's group had made it back safely. But the pair was still stranded.
Wildlife and Fisheries sent a search team by ATV while the Harrison County Sheriff's Department sent a team by air and spotted the mother and daughter on a bank less than two miles north of CC Road, just west of Old Biloxi Road.
The duo was rescued and reunited with family leaving Leigh's mother Debbie Coleman moved to tears.
"They went above and beyond the call of duty. I'm thankful to them for that," said Coleman.
And a terrifying night came to a fortunate conclusion letting everyone involved breathe a sigh of relief.
"Thank God it's all over with," said Leigh through exhaustion.
A handful of additional agencies were involved with this intense search, including the Harrison County Fire Department, and Jackson County Sheriff's Department.