Woman, children rescued after vehicle breaks down deep in Marion Co. woods

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. —

Authorities rescued a mother and three children Wednesday after they disappeared Tuesday night while joyriding taking their vehicle out for a joyride.

Investigators said Tabitha Elliot, 26, went to a friend's home to pick up the friend's child, 2-year-old Owen Weaver, and take him for a ride with her own children, 3-year-old Mason Wicks and 10-month-old Leslie Elliot.

Friends and family members of Elliott's said she had not been seen since Tuesday afternoon.

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Investigators said Elliott's vehicle broke down in the woods, miles from civilization and that she and the children were forced to spend the night in the woods.

They said she put duct tape on the children's feet for protection as they walked through the woods because they didn't have any shoes on.

She also used a lighter to start a campfire and keep them warm overnight.

The woman and children didn't get any water unitl they ran into some hikers.

On Wednesday, they were found safe near Salt Springs.

Channel 9 was there when Eliott and the children were reunited with family members.

"When I seen the chopper circling around, I was like, finally, we're getting out. No more walking," Eliott said.

Follow Kenneth on Twitter: @KCraigWFTV