Local family regains hope in missing child case after Jayme Closs found alive

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- Many people are celebrating after Jayme Closs has returned home and is safe, but there are still 55 children listed as missing in Wisconsin, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

One of those stories hits close to home as a local family is still searching for their loved one after more than 20 years, Sara Bushland who was 15-years-old when she disappeared from outside of her Spooner home in 1996.

Even after all of this time, Jayme’s survival gives a newfound hope for finding Sara. "We just won't give up, we just keep going,” said Sara’s sister, Lesley Small.

It's now been 22 years since Lesley’s sister Sara Bushland disappeared from outside of their Spooner home. “She did get off the school bus, there was a truck behind the bus, and from there we know nothing,” Small said.

Decades later she is still searching for answers and begging anyone with information to come forward. "Somebody has to know something, she didn't just disappear of the face of the earth and somebody knows,” Small added.

She says every single day she thinks of Sara and knows she has to keep hope alive. "I can't give up hope,” Small said. “There is no proof that she is alive or dead so we just continue to keep that hope alive and try to keep her story alive."

In a new effort to keep Sara’s story alive, they are making a film titled “Sara Was Here.” Lesley said there were many reasons for the movie but the main drive she said, “for people to understand Sara and to let Sara have a voice that she has never had before."

Even though sharing details about her sister's life is definitely not easy. "It's almost one of the hardest questions I ever get asked because it was a long time ago and I live and breathe this everyday but it's hard to remember,” Small added.

Sara has been gone for more than 20 years but certainly not forgotten. "She was a spitfire there was no other word for it, she loved to play pranks on people,” Smalls said. “She loved to just have fun but she never cared about herself, she cared only about other people, she made sure that everybody else was happy all of the time."

Now, they are re-gaining hope in the case after Jayme Closs' safe return. "Jayme was strong to be able to do this and I know that my sister is just as strong,” Smart said.

Lesly hopes it brings awareness to all missing children and gives people the courage to come forward with any information about Sara’s case. The trailer for the film was released on Facebook Tuesday afternoon, to see the trailer click here.