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Search for girl ends with hugs

Clutching her cordless phone and pointing toward the hill, Mrs.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

Clutching her cordless phone and pointing toward the hill, Mrs. Adkins told emergency crews gathered in her Woltz Hollow driveway that family members had finally found her 3-year-old great-granddaughter, Destiny Goody, putting an end to a rescue that began about 11 a.m.

Minutes before, more than 20 firefighters from Elizabeth, Decatur and Upper township departments had fanned out along densely forested hillsides near Destiny’s home.

Other firefighters, Forest Service workers and Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department crews sat on four-wheelers, ready for the next search of old logging roads.

At the sound of Mrs. Adkins’s news, Elizabeth chief Dale Waugh put everyone on standby, then canceled the call for extra manpower that had just gone out.

"She’s had to go right up this hillside," Mrs. Adkins said, still clutching the phone. "They said they found her back on the ridgetop, with the puppies. They said she’s fine."

Friday morning, Destiny sat outside playing with the family’s dog and two pups, Sheriff Roy Smith said.

She disappeared 10 minutes later.

"The grandfather went up and over the hillsides and around the end of the hollow," Smith said. "We got the call about 12:30 p.m."

Smith organized search and rescue teams to sweep the remaining hillsides, gullies, caves and rock overhangs.

The Ohio Highway Patrol ordered a helicopter in from Columbus. It swept a five-mile circle with infrared cameras designed to pick up the little girl’s body heat under the dense foliage.

By 6 p.m., fire department rescuers had mapped out a wider search area on topographic maps, expecting to stay until nightfall.

Then, Destiny’s grandfather, Everett Adkins, found her sitting on a log on a ridgetop about one and a half miles from home.

"She was tickled to death She knew she was rescued," Adkins said. "I wasn’t going to quit until I found her. "

Destiny’s mother, Stephanie Maynard, spoke only to rescuers and close family members, tears in her eyes.

After a checkup with Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Service, the wide-eyed little girl took turns clutching her mom, grandmother, great-grandmother and others as at least two dozen family members watched and smiled.

"Everybody’s happy and we thank God," Adkins said.

Sheriff Smith said Destiny had followed the pups up the hillside, just as rescuers predicted.

"She apparently climbed over two fences and went through a patch of briars," Smith said. "She said she laid down and went to sleep and said she saw the helicopter, which woke her probably."

Frightened of the noise, she stayed still, which probably helped rescuers to locate her, he said.

"Except for a few scratches, she’s just fine," Smith said. "And we’re glad she’s back with her family."