Missing girl recovered Wednesday
by Tim Kane
SOUTH HADLEY – After a grueling five-day search of the Connecticut River, the body of a young female, presumed to be the missing five-year-old who fell into the water Saturday, has been recovered.
Local and state agencies on the river Wednesday located the body 500 yards downstream from where the young girl fell into the water, off Cove Island Road, around 3:30 p.m.
No foul play is suspected in this tragic accident, according to the Office of Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan.
Weeks of rain strengthened the river, which is flowing stronger and faster than usual.
FD1 Firefighter and Paramedic Gene Os called river conditions dangerous for rescuers.
“The weather conditions, high water conditions and all of the dangers associated with both of those, like logs and debris coming at us in the water,” he said, encumbered the recovery mission
State and local divers had little visibility underwater, just an arm’s length, said Os.
Crews concentrated the majority of their search between the point of entry and the edge of the dam.
“It’s been hard on everybody because it’s a young girl and everybody’s got kids and everyone can relate one way or the other,” said Os. “They take it personally.”
The girl’s family, he said, is what kept them going.
“You just want to bring some closure to the situation,” he said. ”We do what we ‘gotta do.”
South Hadley Police were called to a Cove Island Road home at 9:17 p.m. Saturday night for an emergency rescue.
Extended family had gathered at that location to view a local fireworks display.
An eyewitness on scene reported to police seeing the girl, the youngest in a Californian family, walking on a dock stretching into the Connecticut River. A boat was moored at the end of the dock.
The five-year-old girl fell in the space between the dock and moored boat.
Immediately, several adults dove into the murky waters in an attempt to retrieve the young child.
She could not be located.
Emergency personnel, including a helicopter equipped with a spotlight, were also unsuccessful in locating the girl that night.
Massachusetts State Police and South Hadley Fire District No. 1 were in command of the incident. Fire District No. 2, South Hadley Police, Massachusetts Environmental Police, the Massachusetts Air Wing and state and local dive teams, the Holyoke Fire Department and the Agawam fire Department maintained a round-the-clock search effort to recover the young girl’s body.