BANGOR – A Hampden girl, missing since Wednesday when she fled the scene of a car accident in Winterport, was found apparently unharmed Saturday morning in a camp near Swanville.
Ashley LeClair, 15, was wrapped in two sleeping bags and eating cereal when deputies from the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department arrived with the girl’s foster mother, Hampden police Sgt. Dan Stewart said Sunday morning.
Stewart said he expected to interview the girl Sunday afternoon.
The Hampden Police Department’s efforts to locate the girl paid off about 9 a.m. Saturday morning when a man walked into the police station on Western Avenue and said that on Thursday he had given a girl matching LeClair’s description a ride to a camp near Swan Lake State Park.
“He’d been in a local store and seen the girl’s picture,” Stewart said Sunday. “I’m just glad he did the right thing and came in and just didn’t blow it off and ignore it.”
Hampden police called the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department and the girl’s foster mother with directions to the camp.
LeClair on Wednesday allegedly stole a sport utility vehicle from a Hampden residence. The vehicle’s owner followed her in another vehicle and alerted police.
The SUV crashed on Main Street in Winterport, rolling over several times.
The girl fled into the woods, according to police, leaving behind a 15-year-old boy who had been a passenger in the vehicle. The boy, whose name was not being released, suffered minor injuries in the accident. They apparently are friends who were running away from home.
LeClair could face charges of auto theft, operating without a license and leaving the scene of an accident, according to Stewart. She would be charged as a juvenile.
Investigators on Friday sought help from the public in locating LeClair out of concern for her safety. In addition to giving her picture and description to the local media, Hampden police for the first time used a national program that helps alert communities that lost children are being sought.
“The service prepares a recorded message about the child and calls every residence with a published phone number in a certain area,” Stewart said. “It asks homeowners to check their property, including any outbuildings, for the lost child. It also gives the child’s name, age, description and the number for the local police station.”
Hampden police had the service call homes within a 10-mile radius of the accident.
“A lot of people called to say they had seen her Thursday morning walking down Route 1A with no shoes and a white blanket or something like it wrapped around her,” Stewart said. “No one said they’d seen her after that, so we figured someone had picked her up.”
The good Samaritan picked up LeClair on Thursday morning on Route 1A walking toward Frankfort, two or three miles from the accident site, according to Stewart. The man who picked her up told police she was barefoot and had a white blanket wrapped around her shoulders.
“It appears that she found a blanket someplace,” Stewart said, “but I’m not sure from where. After she left the accident, she ran through the woods and lost her shoes. That’s why she was barefoot.”