Significant water fluctuation may have contributed to child’s drowning at La Verkin Creek

Jada Harris, 2, deceased Aug. 1, 2012, La Verkin, Utah | Photos submitted for media publication by the Harris family, courtesy of Washington County Sheriff's Department

UPDATE 4:30 p.m. The Sheriff’s office has made appropriate notifications, identified the victim in this tragedy as Jada Harris, and submitted photos of her that have been provided by her family for media publication. We are, accordingly, making this update and appending photos to this story.

Jada Harris, 2, deceased Aug. 1, 2012, La Verkin, Utah | Photos submitted for media publication by the Harris family, courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Department

UPDATED 2:30 p.m. to reflect information received in interview with Washington County Sheriff’s Det. Nate Abbot.

LA VERKIN – Washington County Sheriff’s deputies and La Verkin police officers responded to a report of a missing 2-year-old child in La Verkin on Wednesday, around 8 p.m.

Family members of the child were with her  outside doing some yard work, Washington County Sheriff’s Det. Nate Abbot said.  “It was a split second thing,” he said, “she was there and then she wasn’t there.”  Abbott said that’s what started the episode. The family contacted law enforcement, La Verkin Police responded and then called in the Sherriff’s Department, which then brought in other emergency responders as well as the influx of volunteers.

After over two hours of searching, the child was located deceased in the La Verkin Creek.

Water levels in the creek are measured periodically, the normal reading for La Verkin Creek is .02 cubit feet per second.  At 3 p.m. on Aug. 1 the reading taken showed the water at 1.03 cfs.  Abbott said that is a significant increase over the norm and it may well have increased beyond that in the hours following.  It was approximately two hours after that last reading that the child went missing and another two hours or so until her body was located.  Abbott said that during the search operation itself, the water fluctuated 2-3 feet while responders were on the scene. He said that search teams had passed the area several times before and where the body was ultimately found.

“It wasn’t until the water subsided,” Abbott said, “that they were able to find her. Water played into the fact we were even able to locate her.”

According to the Sheriff’s Department’s statement this morning, the death is being treated as an accident and there is no indication of suspicious activity. The case is still under investigation, in accordance with standard operating protocols.

The Sheriff  said he would like to thank all those volunteers, emergency responders, and the large number of community members who responded to help search for the child. There were well over 200 volunteers assisting in the effort.

“Our condolences go out to the family in the tragic loss of their child,” he said. “At this time, the name will not be released to allow time for notification of other family members.”

Many members of the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Swift Water Team, Division of Natural Resources, Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue, Color Country Fire and the community responded to assist in the search.

* At least two of several flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service and relayed by St. George News to it’s readership via Facebook posts over the Tuesday-Wednesday period included La Verkin Creek specifically or regions proximate indicating potential increase in water flows.

St. George News declines naming the child or her family in this situation at this juncture, our kind sympathies go out to those affected by this tragic accident.



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.


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