Search for girl continues along river

August 14, 2008 3:35:13 PM PDT
Authorities searching for a 12-year-old Bronx girl who fell into the Niagara River say she'd wandered far off a marked trail to reach the water.State parks police say the girl was about 500 feet from the trail when she slipped off a rock Wednesday afternoon and was swept away by fast-moving waters off Whirlpool State Park, downriver from Niagara Falls.

"There was no chance for anyone in her group to reach out to her,"

Fierce water that swept away 12-year-old Magdalena Lubowska of the Bronx pulled her into the currents and carried her downstream.

"Once you hit that water, the water is moving quickly down river. She tried to grab a rock near shore, but was unable," Lt. Patrick Moriarty of the New York State Police said.

Police say the girl was hiking in the Niagara Gorge with about 20 other children and an adult from a camp that caters to members of Polish-American churches and community groups in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Guides led them on a trail that winded through the Niagara Gorge.

Curiosity may have drawn Magdalena to the water's edge, where she sat down on a rock positioned at a 45 degree angle, lost her footing and slipped.

"Where she was sitting on the rock, it is so close to the water her legs were in it. When the water pulled her, she slipped on the moss," Moriarty said.

Fellow campers desperately tried to grab her, but couldn't.

The 911 call came in, but rescuers had a hard time pinpointing the location because of the spotty cell service in this part of the park.

Once rescuers located the group, they spent hours scanning the water by air and land. They searched a two-mile stretch of riverbank on Thursday. Even tourist boats joined the effort.

"Our boats are the only vessels with quick and safe access to the rapids in the whirlpool, wearing no life vest and in this type of water it is hard to stay afloat," John Kinney of Whirlpool Jet Boats said.

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