TODAY   |  April 14, 2010

‘The Lord led me’ to missing girl, rescuer says

After locating missing 11-year-old Nadia Bloom in a dense, alligator-infested swamp, rescuer James King called 911 to share the good news. He speaks with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira about  rescuing Nadia and discusses the happy ending to the Bloom family’s harrowing experience.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> performing live on the plaza.

>>> we begin this half-hour to the happy ending of the search for 11 year-old nadia bloom who disappeared into an alligator-infested florida swamp for four days. we'll talk to the man who found her in just a moment. but first, nbc 's mark potter has the extraordinary details. mark, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, meredith . too often missing children 's cases don't end well and people here had begun to fear that in nadia bloom's case. but then came a stunning 911 call and everything changed. it happened early tuesday. 11-year-old nadia bloom found alive after days of difficult searching in dense woods and swamps, officials had begun to fear the worst. but then they got a dramatic 911 cell phone call from a densely wooded area they had not yet searched.

>> i've got her. i've got nadia . okay, i'm in the middle of the swamp. i can give you my gps coordinates off of this blackberry.

>> sir, you're in contact with her?

>> i'm holding her right now, yeah. she's okay. she got bites all over her, she's got some scratches. she's very lucid. she has no major injuries, just exposure . i've got some -- i'm gonna give her some liquids. i've got some stuff prepared for her. the lord told me where to find her.

>> the caller was james king , a searcher from the bloom family 's church who at dawn had ventured into the woods alone. the 911 operator asked to speak with nadia .

>> hi. this is nadia and i'm the girl that got lost.

>> nadia , are you okay? you're not hurt in anyway?

>> hi, what's your name?

>> my name is mark, nadia . i'm one of the dispatchers for the police department . if you just stay with that man right where you are, we're going to have somebody come to you right now.

>> reporter: word that nadia had been rescued spread fast and electrified the community.

>> she's alive! she's here!

>> i can't imagine what all the rescuers are feeling when you actually search for somebody for five days and you find them alive? fabulous.

>> reporter: nadia , who has a mild form of autism , disappeared friday afternoon near a wooded area close to home in winter springs , florida . her mother also calling 911.

>> i can't find her.

>> okay, what's your name?

>> tanya.

>> what's your last name, tanya?

>> bloom.

>> reporter: police searched for days and nights but to no avail. after james king found her, police confirmed that nadia was barefoot, dehydrated and suffering from mosquito bites but very much alive.

>> she did make two comments to the officers when they got there. "glad you guys found me," "can't believe you rescued me."

>> reporter: as authorities struggle to carry nadia out of the dense woods on a stretcher, her parents waited nervously to see her. her emotional father later hugging james king .

>> things don't always turn out this way.

>> reporter: doctors treating nadia said, given all she had been through, she actually was doing wonderfully.

>> she was smiling. her vitals were stable. she clearly has had the effects of being outside now for about five days.

>> reporter: for police and the entire community, nadia 's rescue was a huge relief. nadia is out of the hospital. both she and james king were questioned by police . the police chief here says he is absolutely convinced that mr. king is a hero. he also says that if he didn't believe in miracles before, he does now.

>> i think we all do. mark potter , thank you very much . james king is the man who found nadia bloom. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> what an incredible story . what a wonderful outcome. you were searching for nadia with another group of people on monday. couldn't find her. then you talked with i believe it was her uncle who was leading that search effort, decided to go back at dawn on tuesday morning by yourself and continue the search.

>> i believe that god wanted me to. when the men said, well, we'll gather together tomorrow some time and we'll come in from the other side on a 417, i prayed. my wife talked with me that night and reminded me, james , when we lose something and we pray to the spirit we always find it. i said you're right. we went back in as soon as the sun came up. i couldn't imagine leaving her out there until everybody else was able to get together. as soon as the sun came up i went in and the lord led me directly to her.

>> you were calling out her name every few minutes. right?

>> it was about two hours into the swamp. it was very rough. i was prepared. i've been in swamped. and i went in and everyone told me to follow where the sunrise was. i went directly east as much as you can go direct in a swamp. i would call " nadia ?" i'd be praying and talking to the lord. lord would be directing me. one time i said, " nadia ," i heard , "what?" i said, oh! i'm going that way! it was probably about 40 yards later, calling back and forth to make sure i went directly to her. there she was sitting on a log looking up at me expectantly like, okay, you're finally here.

>> she recognized you.

>> she said she did. she's pretty direct and straightforward. i'm sure she saw me from church .

>> what condition was she in?

>> amazingly good condition. she had bug bites from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet and scratches. none of them were swollen and red as if there was infection. there was no fever. the bottoms of her feet were waterlogged. she didn't have her shoes anymore. her demeanor and her attitude was fine. she was not panicked.

>> she was not panicked.

>> no, not at all. she apparently has a great faith. the prayers of a lod of people and the lord's guidance let me directly to her.

>> in addition to the lord's guidance, you had your blackberry.

>> my bible, some water. i had some stuff prepared for nadia because i believed i was going to find her. i had some nutrition drink, a very small eight-ounce of that, water, trail mix .

>> you also had toilet paper . what was that for?

>> going into the swamp i thought i would maybe leave markers so i would have a way back out. i realized after going in there was no way i was going back out that way. it was very bad, very dangerous. i thought no matter where i am, i'm not going back in this way. so i ended up keeping it. with the helicopters circling, they were unable to locate me, i sat nadia back down on the log and went over to the nearest opening in the canopy and covered the top of some bushes with the toilet paper so they could spot us.

>> i got to ask you, the police chief pointed out in his piece, said he has no doubt that are you a hero. but they did question you and there was some skepticism because it seems too good to be true. do you understand why they questioned you?

>> sure, well they're doing their job. they don't know who i am. who's this guy? i wasn't a part of the official search party . i was in by myself. nadia 's missing four four days. i'm sure they're investigating all kinds of things. they did their job, check me out, did a very professional job and made sure things were as they seemed.

>> james , it is a pleasure to meet you.

>> thank you, god bless you.

>> thank you. let's bring in nancy mcbride from the center for missing and exploited children . nancy , good morning to you.

>> good morning, meredith .

>> i know that your group was also involved in this search for nadia so how are you feeling this morning?

>> i'm ecstatic. i've been doing this work for over 20 years. it is such a wonderful outcome especially in the state of florida . you know we've got a number of cases that are unresolved so this is just outstanding.

>> what lesson can parents take from this?

>> i think there are a number of lessons. first, what a brave little girl nadia is. everything goes out to her from me. i think she 's wonderful . she stayed calm, which is great. i think the message to parents is, this is a great opportunity to sit down, really talk to your kids, really listen to your kids, and do some practicing, do some "what if" scenarios. what if you were lost, what would you do ? things like that.

>> nancy mcbride, great advice there. thank you so much .

>> thank you, meredith .

>> happy outcome.

>>> now let's get a check