California Family Reveals to Police How They Made a Daring Escape from Alleged River Pirates
The Harteau family was found safe in Belém, Brazil, on Wednesday after vanishing on Sunday
A California couple found safe along with their two daughters after being taken hostage by river pirates in South America detailed to police their hours in captivity on the alleged criminals’ boat.
Adam and Emily Harteau, as well as their daughters Colette, 6, and 3-year-old Sierra, were found safe in Belém, Brazil, on Wednesday after being allegedly attacked by pirates while traveling through the Amazon on Sunday, state police confirmed to the Wall Street Journal.
The parents told police that although they were not kidnapped, the heavily armed pirates took the family and held them hostage in a room on their ship for more than eight hours, ABC News reports.
Police told reporters that the Harteaus said they could hear the pirates leaving and entering the boat as the family worked to determine what they should do, according to ABC News. The couple reportedly told police that the pirates threatened them and that they feared trying to leave the room.
The next morning, at around 1 a.m., the family escaped through the water, with the children floating on a surfboard and Adam and Emily in the water, according to ABC News. They then hid for about 72 hours, surviving on insects and fruit, police told reporters.
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Although initial reports stated that the family was rescued by villagers, the family told police they left their hiding spot when they heard a police boat trying to rescue them, police told reporters, according to ABC News.
The couple spent several hours on Friday recounting the story to police in Belém, according to the Associated Press. On Friday, the family had left for Brasilia and were expected to fly back to the U.S., according to the AP.
It is unclear when they are expected to return to the U.S.
In the wake of the family’s rescue, all four were taken to Breve for medical examinations. Law enforcement spokesman Sergio Chene in Para, Brazil, confirmed to the Associated Press that the Harteaus were in good condition, except for insect bites and scratches.
Throughout their travels, Adam and Emily kept a travel blog called Our Open Road, in which they explained that they left California in their Volkswagen van in October 2012 and have been exploring South America since.