Crews recover body of 9-year-old Dayton girl from Mad River at Eastwood MetroPark

A 9-year-old girl whose body was recovered from Mad River at Eastwood MetroPark on Monday has been identified.

Nora Cal of Dayton was identified Monday afternoon as the girl who was presumed drowned by Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger. Her cause and manner of death have not been determined.

Dayton Fire crews found Cal’s body Monday morning after she was reported missing Saturday at Eastwood MetroPark.

“This has been a very tough day,” said Dayton Fire Capt. Brad French. “Our hearts go out to the family of the 9-year-old girl that was lost.”

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A Dayton Fire Department boat crew found Cal’s body around 11 a.m. downstream from where the girl was first reported missing, French said.

Her family was at the park Monday after recovery efforts resumed in the morning. They were allowed to observe search operations and were given regular updates, he said.

The search began around 5 p.m. Saturday after a kayaker reported there were children in the river who couldn’t swim.

The caller said he and his friend helped get two boys out of the water, according to dispatch records. The boys looked to be around 3 and 6, he said.

“I think the boys are OK; it’s just I don’t know if they have any supervision here and they just about drowned,” the caller said.

He added that some adults standing on the riverbank who were not with the boys told him that there were seven kids total.

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At the time of the call, it was not apparent whether it was known that the 9-year-old girl was missing.

Five Rivers MetroParks Chief of Public Safety Mark Hess said initial reports indicated some children were playing in a shallow area of the river when two kids stepped into a deeper area unexpectedly.

A 16-year-old girl rescued a 10-year-old girl. Both were taken to a local hospital because they inhaled water, he said.

“Crews searched the surface water, under the water and along the riverbanks throughout Saturday evening until underwater dive operations had to be suspended due to the darkness,” French said. “Crews began the search again (Sunday) morning, spending over 15 hours combing the area with 26 divers from several different dive organizations assisting in the incident.”

Operations shifted to a recovery after it was apparent that it was not possible for the girl to have survived under the conditions.

“That does not mean that we pulled our resources out of the water,” French said. “We still had divers in the water. We still had members working along the surface, but it becomes unlikely that there is anyone that is able to be saved at that time. But it certainly doesn’t mean that we stop our operations.”

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Crews responded again Monday morning to resume the recovery and had been searching for a few hours before the body was found.

French estimates about 20 hours were spent searching for the girl. Dive and rescue squads from the Miami Valley region and southwest Ohio responded to assist and K-9 teams helped search the shoreline.

“This was truly an all-out effort,” he said.

Despite the tragic outcome, French said he couldn’t be prouder of all the water rescue operation members who responded.

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With hot and humid weather expected for the next couple of days, Hess reminded people that playing and swimming in rivers and unfamiliar lakes and ponds is dangerous due to sudden and unexpected changes in depth and because sharp or dangerous objects and rocks may be at the bottom of some bodies of water.

“It is best to swim in swimming pools and play in area splash-parks,” he said. “Playing at home with a garden hose or running through a sprinkler is always good fun, too.”

“Water can be a dangerous thing all times of the year,” French added. “Anytime anybody is around water, we certainly want to encourage close supervision.”

Life jackets also are encouraged, he said.

Hess added that swimming is not allowed in any MetroParks rivers or waters. However, kids can play in fountains at RiverScape and Island MetroParks.

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