For several days, a 3-year-old child and his 1-year-old brother survived, alone and hungry, amidst the mangled wreckage of a car crash in Arkansas that killed their mother -- but miraculously spared her two kids.
Local law enforcement officials expressed shock that the young toddlers were able to survive alone for so long -- and joy at the stupefying discovery of the tiny survivors.
Late on Tuesday, county officials in Arkansas told reporters that the date of the crash -- originally believed to have been Saturday -- may have actually occurred last Thursday -- meaning the little survivors would have been lost and exposed to the elements for as long as four days before being located.
Ouachita County Sheriff's Detective Nathan Greeley -- one of the first officials to meet the 3-year-old after he was found -- said the child was found to have suffered some cuts and scrapes, but appeared most desperate for the comfort of human contact.
"He just wanted to hug me," Greeley said. "And didn't want to let go."
The two toddlers were located and rescued on Monday, in an incident Arkansas authorities described as a "miracle."
"They went through pure hell," Greeley said. "It is completely amazing that not only did they survive that long, but that the 3-year-old was able to walk out the way that he did."
The 3-year-old was found wandering on a highway in Camden on Monday, and when members of the sheriff's department went to search the area where he was located, they discovered the car wreck at the bottom of a deep ravine, Greeley said.
The children's mother was ejected from her driver's seat upon impact but her youngest baby remained strapped in by a seat belt. There was no water or food recovered from the vicinity of the crash, officials said.
Arkansas State Police officials identified the mother in police records as Lisa N. Holliman, 25, a Camden resident -- and said she had lost control of the car while driving, which then struck a guardrail and overturned into a ditch.
Greeley said his department estimated that the vehicle had been at the bottom of the ravine for two or three days, and the crash could not be seen from the road.
He said the 3-year-old saved his brother's life by walking out to the highway.
"Had not he done what he did, his brother probably wouldn't be here right now," Greeley said.
Both children were taken to a local hospital and the 1-year-old was treated for dehydration.