Elizabeth's life a 'miracle'

'She's moved forward in such a great way,' her father says

Deseret Morning News/March 6, 2005
By Pat Reavy

The headline in the paper said, "Found! 'Nothing short of a miracle.' " Media from all over the world began descending - again - on Salt Lake City the minute the word got out.

Elizabeth Smart, the young girl who had been missing for nine months, the teen whose picture was posted nationwide, was found walking in Sandy along with a man with an untamed beard and another woman wearing white robes and a veil over her face.

Criminal proceedings against Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee have been sluggish.

Elizabeth, however, with the help of her family and friends, did her best to pick up where she left off before her alleged abduction.

"When Elizabeth got home we didn't know how she'd do," said Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father. "It's been a miracle in our lives. She's moved forward in such a great way."

Elizabeth was 14 when she was allegedly kidnapped from the bedroom of her Federal Heights home. Today, she is 17 and a junior at East High School.

Following her homecoming, Elizabeth made a couple of high profile national appearances, including a trip to the White House and interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Katie Couric. Since then her public appearances have gone down, though she put her harp-playing skills on display in Hawaii before the college football all-star game and as a warm-up act for Toby Keith at the Delta Center.

As much as members of the Smart family have tried to resume their normal lives, Ed Smart acknowledged that some things were forever changed.

"Going in and saying goodnight. Kissing (the children) goodnight has a whole new meaning than before," he said. "Life is much more precious."

Smart also said that he and Lois had probably become more conservative than their children would like. He does not allow Elizabeth to jog alone or any of their children to go anywhere by themselves. And when they do go out, he said they are required to check in regularly and tell their parents if they have any change of plans.

The looming trials of Mitchell and Barzee, as well as the ongoing battles over the defendants' mental competency, continue to keep the kidnapping saga in the news. But Ed Smart said his daughter doesn't seem to pay it much attention.

"Elizabeth doesn't think about it much. She's living her life and enjoying herself. Occasionally we talk about it," he said. "She really doesn't listen or pay attention to it. When she has to deal with it, she deals with it. She's ready to have it over with and move on with her life."

At East High School, Smart said the students were "pretty reasonable" in how they handled having one of the most well-known teenagers in the state at their school and how they interact with her.

"She has great friends that have been there. They don't bug her and question her" about the case, Ed Smart said.

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