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Weather hampers search for child swept away by fast-moving creek

Police searched for the girl until nightfall on Saturday
Police searched for the girl until nightfall on Saturday

Jill Colton, staff writer

March 8, 2011 — Police have had to suspend recovery efforts for a missing 8-year-old girl who fell through the ice near London Saturday due to poor weather conditions.

The search has shifted to recovery mode.
The search has shifted to recovery mode.

Kayla Maybee was last seen standing on a piece of ice in the swollen Gentleman Creek, when she slipped and fell in to the frigid waters.

Kayla was playing with her two friends on the ice at the edge of the creek behind her home on Saturday afternoon.

The search began shortly after she fell into the water.

All weekend, police, firefighters and volunteers have been scouring the neighbourhood for the eight-year-old.

Chris Hunter with the Ontario Provincial Police said although weather conditions have improved since the weekend, cold temperatures are posing their own set of problems.

“And what that's done is it's put a large layer of ice across the water here, which is causing the divers a lot of trouble. The ice is too thin to support them to crawl across and a little bit too thick to manage through.”

As a result, police have suspended recovery efforts until the ice melts and high water levels decrease.

Layer of ice on top of the water hampering search and rescue efforts
Layer of ice on top of the water hampering search and rescue efforts

Over the weekend, OPP dispatched their underwater search and recovery unit and its emergency response team.

“We have been searching every area we can. If we could, we would search every inch of this water right down to the Thames, including getting down into the Thames if we could. It's going to be day by day, the divers are going to determine what they need to do, when they need to do it and how they can do it so we're just going to have to keep working with the weather conditions that are given to us,” explains Hunter.

The tragedy has deeply saddened the community and according to Southwest Middlesex Mayor Doug Reycraft, it's the first incident of this kind in the municipality for many years.

Drenching rains fell throughout southern Ontario on Saturday raising water levels and speeding up water flow.

Hunter said that the water was running a bit slower, but it's still extremely high.

The flood danger is elevated in parts of southern Ontario and police are urging residents to stay away from the banks and ice surfaces of ponds, rivers and streams.

“This time of year especially is a huge concern,” says Hunter. “Water levels are raised hugely from what they usually are. You get snow one day and sun the next day and it's making things very treacherous. Any ice that's on the water right now is definitely not safe to be on.”

With files from Alexandra Pope and Andrea Stockton

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