HOMOSASSA (FOX 13) - After hours searching in the cold, dark woods near Chassahowitzka Campground in Homosassa, four missing children have been found and are safe.
The children were ultimately found by boaters who came across the children by a body of water and took them to safety.
The Citrus County Sheriff Mike Pendergrast said a Tampa family reported the children missing from the campground early Saturday evening.
35 units with patrol, aviation, K-9 and volunteer bloodhound units searched the woods and waterways in a grid near the campground.
Pendergrast said the area is covered with vegetation and is like a "triple canopy jungle" in some areas.
Trying to find four small children on the ground, underneath all this vegetation, is a taks that's really herculean in its scope," the sheriff said. "But, yet, we were able, thanks to the grace of God, find those children out there on the water."
Pendergrast went on to explain the children were actually found by boaters who found the kids, picked them up, and brought them to safety.
Deputies learned after talking with the children that they walked down a narrow trail to some water, but became disoriented and couldn't find their way back.
The children were cold and hungry by the time they were reunited with their parents. One of the children had a borderline hypothermic temperature of 94.5 degrees, Pendergrast said.
The sheriff said the family is elated and thankful to everyone with the Citrus County Sheriff's Office who helped in the search, which included many off duty deputies who responded to the call for help.