It’s every parent's worst nightmare. Just before 2:00 Tuesday afternoon, this message went out from emergency dispatchers:

First responders assembled fast at the staging area at Starved Rock Lodge. But within minutes, the best news came over the speaker – that the kids had turned up at the Starved Rock Visitor Center. According to Utica Fire Chief Ben Brown, the North Carolina family accidentally followed different trails; Mom went high while the kids went low. Chief Brown also confirmed what WLPO gathered from the scanners – at one point Mom was harder to find than the kids were. Seems that, when the good news came, she bolted for the visitor center to get the kids, instead of waiting to be taken there.

Hey, she’s a mom.

And now the family from North Carolina has a story to tell when they get home.

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