July 20, 2007
5-Year-Old Girl Drowns in James River: The Child Had Been Playing in the Water, Which is Posted As Being Unsafe for Swimming.
By Danielle Zielinski, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.
Jul. 20--JAMES CITY -- A 5-year-old girl drowned in the James River near College Creek late Thursday morning while on a beach outing with her family.
Police spokesman Mike Spearman said the girl's mother called police shortly after 11:30 a.m. to report her child was missing. The girl had been playing in the water with another child, going underwater and then resurfacing, before she disappeared, Barnett said.
Barnett said officers searched for the girl for about 10 minutes before he and Maj. Steven Rubino spotted her in the water near the Colonial Parkway bridge over College Creek. Both jumped off a grassy overhang into the river and pulled the child back to shore.
"She wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse when they pulled her out," Spearman said.
Medics at the scene started resuscitation immediately, but it was too late. Hanna was taken to Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
The beach near College Creek, located off Colonial Parkway in James City County, is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. There are no lifeguards.
The beach has a sign warning that waters are "unsafe for swimming or wading" and have a "strong rip tide." But many people who frequent the popular summer hangout don't heed the warnings. Last July, a 19-year-old nearly drowned at the beach before being pulled from the water by two other teens.
On Thursday, Barnett said he noticed a strong current along the surface of the river, but much farther out than the area where the 5-year-old was playing.
"The sign does say, 'No swimming,'" Barnett said. "But in my experience, it's fairly common to see people in the water there."
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Copyright (c) 2007, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.
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