76ºF

Family of 5 rescued from Little Big Econ Forest

CHOLUOTA, Fla. – A dad and four kids almost had to spend the night in the frigid cold after they got lost while bike-riding on trails inside Little Big Econ State Forest. After several hours, they were rescued by Seminole County firefighters Wednesday night.

Christine Mills, 13, told Local 6 she was on the bike trail at the Jones East Trailhead with her siblings, two 15-year-old boys and an 11-year-old girl. As they continued riding on the marked trail, several feet of water blocked the trail, forcing them off their path. District Chief Edward Forrest said the heavy rain from Tuesday caused the river in the forest to rise 8 feet higher than normal, flooding the trail.

"It was awful," said Mills. "It was freezing and we were so cold, trying to find something -- we were huddled together."

She said at some points they were forced to swim in the 3 to 4 feet water, looking for land as they yelled for help.

"There was so much water on the trails and we didn't see that when we first got in the trail it got deeper and deeper," Christine Mills said.

"By the time we were halfway through, we were pretty deep," echoed Jack Mills.

They quickly called their father, Buddy Mills, who is also a firefighter, to get them. But with darkness setting in, temperatures dropping and no sense of how to get out, he realized they would need more help.

After Seminole County firefighters arrived they used a bulldozer to make their own trail and then went almost 2 miles to rescue the family. Firefighters were able to bring them out safely on ATVs without any injuries.