Missing 11-year-old girl found safe in Sumter Co. woods

11-year-old Jozanna Quezada was found just shy of 24 hours after she was last seen.

Missing 11-year-old girl found safe in Sumter Co. woods
Jozanna Quezada was found safe 21 hours after she was reported missing. (Source: WIS)

STATEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - Officials confirmed a little girl who was reported missing in Sumter County has been found and is safe.

Jozanna Quezada, 11, was last seen around 6 p.m. Tuesday after leaving her home in Stateburg during a fight with her sibling.

Deputies found her around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in a wooded area off Sans Souci Road, about a quarter of a mile from her home, officials said. She seemed to be OK, and EMS found only a few minor cuts and bruises.

WIS News was there when deputies found her:

Missing Sumter County 11-year-old found safe

Watch the moment deputies found 11-year-old Jozanna Quezada in the woods, 21 hours after she was reported missing in Sumter County. We are so thankful she is safe!! 🙏 https://bit.ly/39t1PQM

Posted by WIS TV on Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Multiple teams of deputies with K9s scoured the area around Sans Souci Road, Raccoon Road, and Edgehill Road until dark on Tuesday, the sheriff said.

Starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office got the Sumter Police Department, the Department of Natural Resources, the FBI, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division involved in the search, as well.

They had dozens of officers on scene and several aerial units searching for Jozanna.

“There’s no way we could have found her without all the help from the different agencies,” Sheriff Anthony Dennis said. “In all, we had about 60 to 70 officers out there searching for her. I’m so thankful for the teamwork.”

Dennis said the area where Jozanna was found had been previously searched, so he believes she was either hiding or moving around during the day.

WIS spoke to Jozanna’s grandfather Gerald Byrd. He rushed to Sumter as soon as learned about her disappearance.

“My heart was ripping out of my chest. I haven’t been able to eat, sleep. The worst thoughts have been coming through my mind. I was thinking the odds are things aren’t going good. But I’m ecstatic they found her. I can’t imagine my life without her,” Byrd said.

Deputies are interviewing her about why she left home. She will likely be returned to her foster parent’s home, the sheriff said.

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