Two missing teenagers from Kitchener who vanished while on a camping trip in Algonquin Park last week have been found safe, Ontario Provincial Police say.
Marta Malek and Maya Mirota, both 16, were located by the OPP’s canine unit just before noon on Monday.
OPP Spokesperson Bill Dickson tells CP24 that both teens were in “great shape considering the ordeal” they went through but were checked out by paramedics as a precaution.
“We could not have asked for a happier ending for this story,” Dickson said.
He said that the girls were ultimately found a few kilometres away from an area of the Western Uplands Trail., where they were last spotted on July 11.
The teens, Dickson said, mistakenly ventured off the trail and were unable to find their way back.
He said when the girls were about a quarter of the way to the rendezvous point where they were supposed to meet up with the other campers when they realized they had lost the trail.
“They found out they were lost and decided ‘that’s it, we’re going to stay put,’” Dickson said.
They were reported missing after failing to meet back up with the larger group that they had been camping with.
Members of the Ontario Search and Rescue Association assisted with the ground search for the girls, as well as officers from multiple OPP detachments. An OPP helicopter was also used in the search, though Dickson said that the heavy tree canopy in the area made it difficult to see much of anything from the sky.
The girls were ultimately located when search dogs picked up their scent.
While the girls were hungry, bug-bitten, tired and hot, they were not seriously injured, Dickson said.
“They had been camping before, they were no strangers to the woods,” he told CP24. “They had a tent with them, they had some camping equipment and they had supplies. They were equipped to be in the woods, but just weren’t equipped to be in the woods quite as long as they were.”
He said they would have experienced nearly complete darkness in the woods overnight, a the thick tree canopy would have prevented moonlight from penetrating.
“They’ve had a harrowing experience and a story they will tell for a long time to come,” Dickson said.