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South Hadley Rescue Crews Continue Looking for Missing 5-Year-Old Girl in CT River

photo(105)SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WGGB) –It’s unusual for Gail Hutchinson to hear any noise in her South Hadley neighborhood after 9 o’clock. That changed at around 9:30 on Saturday night, when South Hadley police and fire, Holyoke police and fire, and state troopers swarmed the CT river looking for a 5-year-old girl who went missing in the water, who was believed to have fallen into the river from a home on Cove Island Rd. “My prayers are with this family right now, it’s just…really, to heart that you just hope everything’s ok. You hope everything turns out ok and that’s all,” she said.

Sunday morning parts of Cove Island Road were blocked off, with eerie silence broken only by the sound of crews combing the water, desperately searching for the little girl.

The Northwestern DA’s office says information gathered at the scene revealed that the five-year-old girl was the youngest member of a California family that had arrived in town for an extended family gathering.

The family had gathered at a house on Cove Island Road Friday evening to watch a local fireworks display.

An eyewitness reports seeing the five-year-old girl walking on a dock and then falling through a space between the end of the dock and a moored boat.

Several adults dove into the river immediately in an attempt to save her, but the girl couldn’t be located.  The State Police Dive Team reports that due to recent rains, the Connecticut River’s current is stronger and faster than normal.
According to authorities, the girl is presumed to be dead.

As soon neighbors realized what was going on, they didn’t think twice about their own safety, and got into the river to help. “I took a small boat over to that area where a lot of things end up and hoping I could see something, but at this point, it would have to be on the surface for me to be able to see it. I scoured the area on the Holyoke side for a couple hours and didn’t see anything,”

The water’s rough and murky conditions didn’t help Bartoz, even though he was on the river before first responders.

Crews called the search off at 3:30 this afternoon… because of weather and water concerns.

Local authorities will continue searching Monday, while the state police underwater recovery unit will rejoin them Tuesday.

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