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Neighbor recalls finding missing 3-year-old Winter girl

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WINTER, WI -- Winter, Wisconsin officials are calling what happened on Old Highway 70 Monday evening a miracle.

That's where three-year-old Abby Ladwig, missing for 24 hours in the woods, later showed up unharmed across the street from where she was last seen.

Abby was first reported missing Sunday night.

Authorities said she had walked away from her front yard when her father went inside for a few minutes.

Hundreds of volunteers, law enforcement agencies, helicopters, and canines spent Sunday evening and Monday searching for her.

Abby's aunt said Tuesday the family is very grateful for a happy ending.

"She's happy, she's very tired, very sore. She said she followed the dog, she was in the woods and slept in the woods," said Abby's aunt Johnna Ludack.

Meanwhile, Jerome Frederick had a front-row seat to the hundreds who showed up to search for Abby and her dog, peanut.

"Sunday night was chaos," said Frederick.

Frederick lives right across the street from Abby's family.

Frederick, not being able to search for the missing three-year-old because of a bad knee, was relaxing on his front porch

“I was sitting here reading a book and watching the traffic and that little dog had come running out,” Frederick said.

Frederick said he thought the dog was part of the canine search team at first.

“It just dawned on me when it got about there, wait a minute! That’s their dog, I’ve seen it over there and I turned and I turn my head and she’s standing there!”

Frederick recalls feeling a roller coaster of emotions.

“In 77 years, I have never had a feeling like that. I was shocked, happy,” added Frederick.

Frederick said Abby climbed up his porch stairs, with scratches on her legs and seemed unharmed.

"She wasn’t crying, she wasn’t upset," Frederick said. "She said, 'where’s my mama?' And that’s all she said to me.”

Frederick and his wife helped her inside, wrapped a blanket around her cold body, and gave her some water, “I started yelling she’s over here she’s over here!”

Search and rescue personnel rushed through the woods to get Abby.

Sawyer County Sheriff, Doug Mrotek said it’s a miracle she’s alive, “it gives all of us in Sawyer County a great day today.”

Frederick still in shock, was surprised too.

“That kid has got to be tough as shoe leather," said Frederick.

Meanwhile, hundreds on social media praised Frederick for finding Abby. But Frederick says praise is not needed.

"I didn’t do nothing she was just sitting here, she tripped over me."

Police said Tuesday they think they couldn't find Abby right away because of how thick and dense the woods are in that area.

They're not sure if she wandered further and came back or was nearby the whole time.

Abby also endured storms in the area while she was missing, the same storms that hampered the search and grounded drones and helicopters Sunday night.

Lyanne Valdez

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