BRANDON (FOX 13) - An 11-year-old girl with special needs who disappeared from her Brandon home was found safe Thursday morning walking along nearly 30 miles from her Brandon home.
Jenna Irmlir, who has Asperger's Syndrome, was last seen Tuesday night, setting off a massive search that involved hundreds of volunteers.
Thursday morning, Jenna was found walking down Paul Buchman Highway in Zephyrhills.
"We're very forunate that we have a good outcome. She's just 11. She was gone for a long period of time, so what could start out as a runaway could turn into something much worse," Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said during a news conference.
Investigators planned on interviewing Jenna to find out why she left home and how she got so far away. Sheriff Gee said he's not sure if she had any help.
"She had a lot of time in between the time she left here [and when she was found]," he said. "Could she have made it all that way with all the attention and not being detected? I don't know."
The man who found her, Richard Brown, said he and his wife Linda had actually been part of the search for Jenna a day earlier.
"I said we need to need to search. Daylight is going to be gone. We got to go help the family," Linda Brown said. "We went to playgrounds. We went to schools. We went by the Y. We just continued driving around and looking for her."
Richard Brown said he had no real reason to be where he was other than that's where his motorcycle joyride after he left his Valrico home Thursday morning.
"I am a spiritual man and I do think it was divine guidance," he said.
He ended up heading down Paul Buchman Highway and saw something else that didn't seem to belong.
"When I saw a young lady walking on the side of the road, I thought, 'well that's very odd,'" he told FOX 13. "I called her name, I said 'Jenna?' She said, 'no.'"
And then she kept walking, Brown said. But he kept a close eye on her and didn't want to scare her into running away.
In the meantime, an employee at a nearby Circle K also saw Jenna and had called authorities. Deputies were there a short time later and found her in the woods near a dairy farm down the street from the convenience store.
"[An employee] told me he saw somebody walking in them trees over there. They went over and there she was," said Nelson Spoto, who owns the dairy farm. "Glad she's safe. Don't look like she was harmed or nothing."
Richard Brown said he's glad he was in the right place at the right time.
"Relief is not even the word," he said. "[Tears] welled up inside of me. Like I said, I cannot imagine what the parents were feeling. I'm just glad she's home, she's safe and she's with her parents."