A 4-year-old girl in Siberia has been heralded as a hero after trekking five miles through a remote area packed with wolves to find help for her sick grandmother last month. But now, authorities in the Tuva republic of Russia have opened a criminal case against her mother for reportedly putting the little girl in danger.
As the Guardian reports, Saglana Salchak was living with her grandparents at a remote farm near the Mongolian border. Their home was located deep in the taiga forest, over 12 miles from the nearest village — and 5 miles from the next house. When Salchak found her 60-year-old grandmother not moving last month, she consulted with her blind grandfather and then decided to walk to their nearest neighbor for help.
Per the Guardian:
Taking only a box of matches in case she had to light a fire, the four-year-old set out into the early-morning darkness, where temperatures hit -34C (-29F). It took her several hours to walk the five miles along a river bank through snowdrifts. Fortunately, she did not get stuck in the snow, often chest high, or encounter any of the wolves that had at times attacked her grandparents’ livestock.
Saglana reportedly almost missed her neighbor’s house, but luckily, they spotted her and called medical personnel, who discovered the grandmother had died from a heart attack. The little girl reportedly told Komsomolskaya Pravda that she wasn’t scared during her trek. “I just walked, walked, and got there,” she said, though she added that it had been cold and that she had “really wanted to eat.”
The young girl caught a cold during her journey but “quickly recovered” at a local hospital, and recently celebrated her 5th birthday at a social center where she is now living. The Guardian notes that local media is now calling her a hero.
On Sunday, however, the Tuva investigative committee opened a criminal case against her mother, Elanora Salchak, for allegedly leaving her with elderly grandparents who lacked the ability to guarantee her safety. Saglana’s mother and stepfather take care of a herd of horses in another part of the region, and Tuva investigators argued the minor was left in danger. If charges are filed, she could face up to a year in prison. Officials are reportedly investigating social-policy officials in the district, as well.