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BOISE -- Idaho State Police are honoring the people who first spotted a teenage kidnap victim and her captor in an Idaho forest last summer.

The four residents of the community of Sweet are being recognized for their help in the rescue of Hannah Anderson, of California.

Former Gem County Sheriff Mark John, his wife, Christa, and Mike and Mary Young were horseback riding in Idaho's Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness when they encountered Anderson and 40-year-old James DiMaggio. They later saw the pair on TV in connection with an Amber Alert, and called police.

We are extremely flattered that we have received this type of publicity, said Mark John.

Not only did they not expect the national attention, but they didn t expect to get a new friend.

She is our granddaughter. We kind of adopted her, so she is just going to have to put up with us, laughed Christa John.

DiMaggio was the focus of a massive manhunt for allegedly abducting the 16-year-old and killing her brother and mother at DiMaggio's home about 65 miles east of San Diego.

DiMaggio died in an August shootout with FBI agents who rescued Anderson in the wilderness.
The opportunity that we had to be of assistance to someone is really a blessing to us, said Mary Young.

The bond the four horse riders made with Anderson continues.

Christa John told KTVB about how in February they met up with Anderson and her family in Yuma, Arizona.

We let her ride the Razor out in the desert, and her aunt commented to me that she hadn t see Hannah that happy since before that happened, said Christa John. She was totally relaxed, but you could still tell there were moments when she was not.

Mary Young said she's become more aware since what happened with Hannah.

Sometimes I think we hold back and we aren t very observant, and we need to be observant to what is happening around us, she said.

Mark John credits the law enforcement for their prompt response to their tip on the Amber Alert.

The Amber Alert expedited everything, and I think the Idaho State Police and law enforcement agencies, the FBI all of them have done a fantastic job when the ball got rolling. They moved in, they did what they were supposed to do the way that they were supposed to do it, said Mark John.

The four said their thoughts still remain with Anderson.

She has been through the wringer on this thing and traumatized, Mike Young said. I am just surprised how she has come around, but we are really proud of her.

On May 20, the four will travel to Washington D.C. to be honored by The Center for Missing and Exploited Children.



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