A California family’s harrowing adventure to the jungle in Brazil ended on a happy note when they were found alive after going missing for several days following a pirate attack.
Adam and Emily Harteau and their 3- and 7-year-old daughters were found Wednesday and they were all in good condition. They were treated at a local hospital for insect bites and scratches, authorities said.
The Harteaus were on their way to Breves when gunmen boarded the boat they were on and forced them to go to the city of Porto dos Dias. The crew and passengers were held hostages for several hours before the pirates fled.
When police arrived, there was no sign of the Harteaus and the van the family had been using in their journey was found abandoned in the jungle, authorities said.
Colby Guillory, a Los Angeles resident acting as a family spokesman, said friends and relatives think the Harteaus decided to flee the boat to get away from the pirates and stayed in the jungle.
"Me knowing Adam, he probably took it upon himself to save his family," Guillory said. "We just know that sometime between pirates overtaking the boat and leaving the boat, (the Harteaus) went missing. We think they jumped."
It’s unclear how the family of four fled from the pirates.
The Harteaus had been staying in the southern city of Florianopolis. They used a website to document their journey around South America, which began in 2012 as a plan to travel to Patagonia in their Volkswagen van and return to California one year later.
But the Harteaus fell in love with South America and extended the trip after they "decided to embrace a future unknown and the rewards of slow travel," according to their site, which says Adam is an artist and Emily a fashion designer.
Adam Harteau's brother, Keith, told The Associated Press earlier that the attack happened as the family was preparing to move back to California. They were set to arrive in Los Angeles on Nov. 15.
Keith Harteau said the couple wanted to be closer to home and for their girls to be near their family.
"It was their time to get a little bit of foundation," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.