DPS helicopter crew finds Cordes Lakes girl, dog helped child survive cold

By Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

An Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter crew found a 3-year-old Cordes Lakes girl early Friday morning about three-quarters of a mile south of her home after she had been reported missing from her front yard the evening before.

DPS officers found Victoria Bensch in good condition, but flew her to Phoenix Children's Hospital because of frostbite on her face, legs and arms, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. Victoria's mother and father reunited with her and her mother accompanied her to the hospital.

Victoria and her dog, Blue, apparently wandered away from her home traveling over several hills, D'Evelyn said.

"We had a mounted posse group ready to head into that area when the Ranger helicopter crew spotted Victoria and Blue," D'Evelyn said. "We're so glad she's OK.

"We believe her dog with her was a major factor in her survival. Blue kept her warm and alert and provided some solace for her."

Officers dropped Blue off at the command post in Cordes Lakes, D'Evelyn said.

Victoria's parents called the Sheriff's Office to report her missing just after 6 p.m. Thursday from their home in the 21000 block of Fremont Drive in Cordes Lakes. Her parents had last seen Victoria playing outside on the porch of their home at about 5 p.m. and they spent an hour searching the area around their home before contacting Sheriff's deputies, D'Evelyn said.

No one at the girl's home heard anything unusual or suspicious before they discovered she was missing, D'Evelyn said.

The Jeep Posse, Yavapai County Sheriff's Response Team, DPS, DPS Ranger helicopter, and Mayer Fire Department personnel assisted Sheriff's Office deputies in their search for Victoria throughout the night and early morning.

Deputies and detectives spent the evening contacting registered sex offenders in the Cordes Lakes area and ruled out their involvement in Victoria's disappearance, D'Evelyn said. Cars leaving the area were checked as well for any signs or evidence of the missing girl.

Friday morning, deputies and specially trained search volunteers deployed scent dogs, who smelled an item of Victoria's clothing from her room and tracked her scent outside the home, D'Evelyn said.

Searchers also re-checked areas they searched Thursday night.

"This appears to be a non-criminal rescue," D'Evelyn said. "It appears she wandered away."

If you have any information about this incident, please call the Sheriff's Office immediately at 928-771-3260.

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