STEWARTSTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – A York County woman and her family are free, five years they were seized by a Taliban-linked group in Afghanistan.
Pakistani fighters were involved in a shootout before the family was safely rescued from a van. It’s news the woman’s family and the community have been waiting to hear.
“Stewartstown, they’ve been on the news before, but probably not this big,” Thomas McDowell said as he finished his meal at Taylor Haus Family Restaurant in Stewartstown.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s a shame it’s been five years,” said Tracey Wise, manager of Tres C Salon in Stewartstown.
The community is relieved to hear native Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, and their three children are safe. The couple says they were backpacking when they were captured. Coleman was pregnant at the time and had all three of her children in captivity.
“I think it’s crazy,” Wise said. “It’s such a small town. It’s grown leaps and bounds since when I was born here, but it’s just amazing that someone from this area would have been in that situation that they would have been captured.”
U.S. officials say they worked with Pakistan to release the family.
“We were allowed to actually talk with Josh. That’s the first time in five years we got the hear his voice. It was amazing, and he told us how much he looked forward to and his children were looking forward to meeting their grandparents,” Joshua’s parents, Patrick and Linda Boyce, told the Toronto Star.
“If they want to have a reception for them when they get back to town here or whatever, it would be something to realize they weren’t forgotten,” McDowell said.
Coleman’s parents put a statement on their front door in Stewartstown, saying they appreciate all the interest and concern with the good news but would like privacy.
“She can come home and enjoy the rest of her life maybe,” McDowell said.
ABC News spoke to the Coleman family on the phone. Jim Coleman told them, “The U.S government called us Wednesday afternoon. They told me to sit down, and then they told me what had happened. All they told me was that they were in ‘friendly hands’.”
“I am in a state of euphoria, stunned and overjoyed,” Lyn Coleman, Caitlan’s mother, added. “Caity and her family’s nightmare is finally over.”
Neighbors did not want to go on camera but said they’re happy to hear the news.
It’s not known if or when the family will arrive in the United States, but we do know they are safe.