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Found safe in Fla. swamp; girl missing 4 days

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[April 20, 2010]  TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The little girl's voice on the 911 call was faint yet cheerful, letting central Florida police know that after four days of searching and lots of prayer, they had found missing 11-year-old Nadia Bloom.

Hardware"Hi. This is Nadia and I'm the girl that got lost," she said Tuesday from deep inside an alligator-infested swamp in Winter Springs .

The fifth-grader, who has Asperger's syndrome, a type of autism-related disorder, was found by a man who attends the same church as her family, police said.

James King said she was in a dry patch in the middle of the swamp.

"Hey, I've got her," King said in the 911 call. "I've got Nadia."

King said that the girl had bug bites yet "no major injuries, just exposure."

King added: "The Lord told me where to find her."

The dispatcher asked to speak with Nadia, and that's when she said hello.


"She was very calm, she was very matter-of-fact. There was no panic," King said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday.

The girl, who had last been seen Friday, was taken to a hospital in nearby Longwood, where she was evaluated and treated for dehydration and insect bites, said Winter Springs Police Chief Kevin Brunelle.

"If I never believed in miracles, I sure do now," Brunelle said.

The medical director at South Seminole Hospital, Dr. Rakish Parekh, told reporters that Nadia was smiling and had some bruises and bites. She was getting intravenous fluids for dehydration.

"She is doing remarkably well," he said.

Later, Geo Morales, a spokesman for hospital, said that Nadia's family requested privacy and said he could not release any information about her, including whether she was still being treated.

Brunelle said Tuesday night that he wasn't sure if Nadia had yet gone home.

"Children can be very resilient," Brunelle said. "Especially Nadia. She's a driven young lady, and she surprised a lot of people today."

The discovery was welcome -- and rare -- in a state that has been plagued with missing children.

Brunelle said Nadia told rescuers two things: "I'm glad you guys found me," and "I can't believe you guys rescued me."

Her sister has said Nadia may have gone into the dense woods hoping to make a nature video.

As they waited for rescuers to arrive, King gave her a nutritional shake, an apple and some water.

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During the 911 call, King asked Nadia if he could take her photo, "so you can show how God protected you."

"Sure!" Nadia replied.

King then unfurled toilet paper around a tree in an attempt to draw attention to where they were.

Using cell phone signals and GPS coordinates, authorities found them in the swamp.

"Mr. King is a hero right now," said Brunelle. "He led us to her."

Brunelle added that detectives questioned King about the rescue and want to speak with Nadia about how she spent her time while she was missing.

Brunelle did say that Nadia told them that she had not talked to anyone since going into the woods on Friday.

"Nadia hasn't indicated to us in any way that Mr. King is involved in anything improper," the chief said Tuesday evening.

Speaking Wednesday morning on the CBS "Early Show," Brunelle said King was "an absolute hero."

Authorities began searching for her in wooded areas near Lake Jesup, one of the most alligator-filled lakes in central Florida. The fifth-grader was last seen riding her bike and authorities became alarmed when they found it and her helmet in her neighborhood. She did have a backpack with her.

It took nearly two hours for rescuers to carry Nadia out of the thick brush and swamp.

Shortly after word came that she was alive, her father briefly spoke to the media.

"It all came so fast and it just shows the compassion of the human spirit. It should give everybody encouragement," Jeff Bloom said after rescue crews lifted her into an ambulance.

When asked how he felt, Bloom said: "I can't even describe it. Let's give the glory to God."

[Associated Press; By TAMARA LUSH]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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