WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. (AP) — The family of a 2-year-old girl who was swept away with another child by a flash flood that engulfed their vehicle on a Pennsylvania highway express their gratitude at the discovery of a body believed to be hers.
The body was found early Friday night in the Delaware River near a Philadelphia sewage treatment plant about 50 miles from where Matilda Sheils was taken, authorities said Friday night. The Philadelphia medical examiner’s office is planning an autopsy. The search continues for Matilda’s 9-month-old brother, Conrad.
“We are grateful that our little Mattie has been brought home to us. We are still praying for Conrad’s return,” the family said in a statement released Saturday by Upper Makefield Township Police.
Family members also expressed “their continued gratitude for the overwhelming outpouring of love, support and concern from the community and people across the country as rescuers worked tirelessly to locate Mattie and Conrad.”
“Thank you all, once again, for your compassion and kindness. We are humbled,” the statement read.
The Charleston, South Carolina family was visiting family and friends in the area and heading to a barbecue on the evening of July 15 when their vehicle was hit by a “wall of water”, according to Upper Makefield Fire Chief Tim Brewer. Their mother, Katie Seley, 32, was also killed in the flooding, authorities said.
The children’s father, Jim Sheils, grabbed the couple’s 4-year-old son, while Seley and a grandmother grabbed the other children, Brewer said. Sheils and the son managed to get to safety, but Seley and the grandmother were swept away. The grandmother survived.
Four other people drowned in the area, according to the Bucks County Coroner’s Office: Enzo Depiero, 78, and Linda Depiero, 74, of Newtown; Yuko Love, 64, of Newtown; and Susan Barnhart, 53, of Titusville, New Jersey.
The deaths and the search for the children have resulted in an outpouring of support, particularly on social media, in the suburb about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Philadelphia.