After more than a week on the run, a pair of missing Michigan teenagers were found safe Monday, playing with sea gulls on a beach in Louisiana.
The nine-day saga of 13-year-old Hannah McConnell and 15-year-old Gage Petherbridge ended when workers at a beach ambulance station in Cameron Parish, La., found the couple and called authorities Monday afternoon.
After being spotted, the teens tried to drive away from the beach in the family van they'd taken, but law enforcement caught the pair. Hannah and Gage were detained for overnight along with Gage's cocker spaniel, Mandy, who joined them on their journey.
After days of sleepless nights, Hannah's and Gage's parents got the call they had been waiting for Monday afternoon.
"They're OK. The dog, the van, both of them!" explained Gage's mother, Mary Wismer.
"It was just like a hundred-pound brick came off me, I started crying instantly," Hannah's mother, Julie McConnell, told reporters.
The local sheriff's office is holding the teens, who will be reunited with their parents soon. Gage and Hannah are in different cells.
The children's parents expressed relief after hearing the duo had turned up 1,300 miles away from their Michigan homes.
"She acted like they were on holiday together," Julie McConnell said.
Before Monday, the most recent information about the couple came Saturday when the families learned Hannah had called a friend in Nevada from a motel room to say she and Gage were safe, but running low on money.
The McConnells had tried to keep the couple apart because they believed Hannah was too young to date. Then Jan. 12, Hannah and Gage left overnight with Wismer's van and $680 in cash, along with the family dog.
"I don't know why they did such a crazy thing but the whole issue stemmed around we didn't want Hannah to see Gage," Julie McConnell told "Good Morning America," Monday morning before they were found.
The McConnells worried about their daughter, who has bipolar disorder and had written suicidal dairy entries, saying she would end it all after her fling with Gage. They said Hannah had been on medication but did not take her prescriptions with her when she ran away.
Both sets of parents said now it doesn't matter what happened because they are overjoyed to know their children are safe.
"We'll ask all those questions and get the answers later," said Wismer.
"I'm going to hug her, tell her I love her. [I'm] just be glad we have her back," Julie McConnell said.