PARA, Brazil – A nomadic American couple and their two young children were found alive Wednesday, three days after they went missing in an attack by river pirates in Brazil.
Police say Adam and Emily Harteau and their daughters, 6-year-old Colette and 3-year-old Sierra, were passengers on a ferry from the Amazon gateway city of Belem to Macapa that was attacked by pirates on Sunday, ABC reports.
Police say the pirates held the crew and passengers hostage for hours and there was no sign of the family after they left. The Harteaus were rescued Wednesday by a villager who spotted them floating on a piece of driftwood in the river, police say.
They were unharmed apart from scratches and insect bites. It’s not clear how the family escaped the pirates, though Emily Harteau’s father, Warren Brandle, tells the Wall Street Journal that he has seen a report that they jumped out of a boat with their surfboards and rode currents to safety.
He adds that such an escape wouldn’t surprise him because his son-in-law is a “build-a-fire-out-of-sticks kind of guy.” The couple, who documented their travels on the “Our Open Road” blog, left California in 2012 intending to spend a year traveling South America in their Volkswagen van, but ended up making it a much longer journey.
Adam Harteau’s brother, Keith Harteau, tells the AP that the family was planning to move back to California later this month so the girls could grow up close to relatives and “have a little bit of foundation.”