Dayton Daily News, Ohio
Jun. 28—The body of a child has been recovered from Mad River after a 9-year-old girl was reported missing Saturday at Eastwood MetroPark, according to the Dayton Fire Department.
“This has been a very tough day,” said Dayton Fire Capt. Brad French. “Our hearts go out to the family of the 9-year-old girl that was lost.”
The child has not been identified at this time. The Montgomery County Coroner will make the official identification, but the fire department believes the body recovered was the missing girl.
A Dayton Fire Department boat crew found the child’s body around 11 a.m. downstream from where the girl was first reported, French said.
Her family was at the park Monday after recovery efforts resumed in the morning. They were allowed to observe search operations and were given regular updates, he said.
The search began around 5 p.m. Saturday after a kayaker reported there were children in the river who couldn’t swim.
The caller said he and his friend helped get two boys out of the water, according to dispatch records. The boys looked to be around 3 and 6 years-old, he said.
“I think the boys are OK; it’s just I don’t know if they have any supervision here and they just about drowned,” the caller said.
He added that some adults standing on the riverbank who were not with the boys told him that there were seven kids total. It’s not clear the children’s parents or any other adult was at the park with the children.
At the time of the call it was not apparent if it was known that the 9-year-old girl was missing.
Five Rivers MetroParks Chief of Public Safety Mark Hess said initial reports indicate some children were playing in a shallow area of the river when two kids stepped into a deeper area unexpectedly.
A 16-year-old girl rescued a 10-year-old girl. Both were taken to the hospital because they inhaled water, he said.
“Crews searched the surface water, under the water and along the riverbanks throughout Saturday evening until underwater dive operations had to be suspended due to the darkness,” French said. “Crews began the search again yesterday morning, spending over 15 hours combing the area with 26 divers from several different dive organizations assisting in the incident.”
Operations shifted to a recovery late Saturday after it was apparent that it was not possible for the girl to survive under the conditions.
“That does not mean that we pulled our resources out of the water,” French said. “We still had divers in the water. We still had members working along the surface, but it becomes unlikely that there is anyone that is able to be saved at that time. But it certainly doesn’t mean that we stop our operations.”
Crews responded again Monday morning to resume the recovery and had been searching for a few hours before the body was found.
French estimates about 20 hours were spent searching for the girl. Dive and rescue squads from the Miami Valley region and southwest Ohio responded to assist and canine teams helped search the shoreline.
“This was truly an all-out effort,” he said.
Despite the tragic outcome, French said he couldn’t be prouder of all the water rescue operation members who responded.
With hot and humid weather expected for the next few days, Hess reminded people playing and swimming in rivers and unfamiliar lakes and ponds is dangerous due to sudden and unexpected changes in depth and because sharp or dangerous objects and rocks may be at the bottom of some bodies of water.
“It is best to swim in swimming pools and play in area splash-parks,” he said. “Playing at home with a garden hose or running through a sprinkler is always good fun, too.”
“Water can be a dangerous thing all times of the year,” French added. “Anytime anybody is around water we certainly want to encourage close supervision.”
Life jackets, while a personal choice, are also encouraged, he said.
Hess added that swimming is not allowed in any MetroParks rivers or waters. However, kids can play in fountains at RiverScape and Island MetroParks.
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