Family of Autistic Child Talks About Rescue, Thanks Community
WAGONER COUNTY, Oklahoma - An autistic child who wandered away from her bus stop is home safe tonight. Lily Buffington's family is thanking the community for the hours of work they put in to bring their little girl home.
This was not an easy rescue. First responders and Lily's family say they were battling rough terrain and cold weather. They say there were moments of uncertainty when they weren't sure how the rescue would turn out but they never lost hope.
The Phillips Family gave us a picture of the child right after she was rescued.
She is tired. She is cold. She has scratches but she is alive.
"I was afraid they were going find her face down in a puddle not breathing or her little lips blue," said Lily’s mom Courtney Phillips.
Agencies from across the state spent hours searching the woods for Lily. Deputies say she got off the school bus around 4 o clock Monday afternoon but never made it home.
“Every one of those lines is another hill,” said Lily’s family member Branson Phillips, "They are probably at least 40 foot high and 40 foot deep on either side if not more."
A Broken Arrow firefighter who is also a part of Lily's family says there are deep creeks running along the outside of the property. Broken Arrow Fire Lieutenant Branson Phillips said at one point after the K9's picked up a scent and then lost it, they were worried little Lily had fallen into the water.
"They are saying the dogs have found a source of scent and it was right by a strip pit. The first worry is they can't find her. They aren't seeing any heat. Is she in the water?" Branson Phillips said.
"It looked pretty bad at that point but you have to keep hope alive, you have to keep searching. You can't let that bother you because there is a possibility that she is there somewhere,” Branson Phillips said.
Rescuers say they found Lily sitting on a tree stump around midnight scared but alive.
“The first thing that they told me to tell her was Chris (her stepdad) was there and to tell her that he sent me to find her. I did that and she immediately reached her hand out and grabbed my hand,” Branson Phillips said.
Lily's family says the outpouring of love and support they have received from the Oklahoma community has been overwhelming.
“I have never seen anything like it. I never experienced anything like it,“ said Courtney Phillips.
“It’s the Oklahoma love,” said Chris Phillips, “That is what I told her this morning it is just the Oklahoma love…everybody in the state just wants to make sure our Lily is okay."