A toddler lost her life in the Virgin River near Mesquite Tuesday. The 3-year-old was swept away by the current, her body discovered hours later near the Bunkerville Bridge.
The child disappeared into the river at around 12:45 p.m. It's still unclear how she got into the water in the first place, but officials say it happened fast.
The little girl's family was spending time on the river bank when one adult spotted trouble.
"The grandmother was able to see that the children were being moved by the water and was able to grab a 4-year-old and 5-year-old," Metro's Sgt. Bret Empey said. "(She) was unable to grab the 3-year-old before the water was able to grab a hold of her."
The girl was swept down the river. That set off a massive search and rescue operation. The girl was swept away at an irrigation ditch where the water can act like a pool drain and grab someone, holding them underwater.
"A determination was made during the rescue efforts that shutting off the water flow to the diversion canal would assist," Empey said. "Miles of the diversion canal had been searched several times over. As we do in most cases, we backtracked on our search and started again. With the lowering of the water we were able to gain better access to the canal and determine where she was located."
The little girl's body was found within the system of the canal at a gate area. The dangers of the irrigation canal are well known in the small community of Mesquite.
"The banks are kind of slippery and it's kind of muddy," a Mesquite resident told FOX5. "It would be pretty tough to get back out."
Sgt. Empey said this should act as a reminder of the dangers of irrigation systems.
"You can get near the head wall or one of the gates and bad things can happen," he said.
The area is open to the public but it's not a place people frequently go for recreation. Metro said it does not appear any charges will be filed but an investigation will take place.
Officers said a similar incident happened in the same spot about two years ago. In that case, it was an adult who died.
Copyright 2012 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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