General — 27 August 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego

7-year-old drowns while swimming with relatives

A girl drowned over the weekend while swimming with her family. Chelsea Smith, 7, of Sandhill, was swimming with relatives around 11:00 yesterday morning in the Belize River at Isabella Bank, when she went under the water and did not resurface. Despite the best efforts of her family, friends and the Coast Guard, Chelsea has not yet been found.

Pamela Olivera said that yesterday about 5:30 in the morning, she and her family went to Isabella Bank from Sandhill to attend a party at her relatives. While at the function, she and her five children went fishing at the Belize Old River situated in front of their relatives’ residence.

The children were swimming in the river when she saw her daughter go under the water. She went to assist her, but the strong river currents pulled her under, causing her to struggle for her own life. She managed to save herself, but was not able to reach her daughter, who disappeared, Olivera said.

People in the area tried to assist and the Coast Guard was called. They searched, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Percival Flowers of Isabella Bank told reporters that Olivera, who was fishing, caught a fish, and the girl was coming over to see the fish when she went under. The strong current in the area may have quickly taken the girl away downstream, making it difficult to locate her. He said that experienced divers tried to find the girl, but they were not able to do so due to the strong currents.

Flowers said that when the Coast Guard came to the area, hours after the incident occurred, the river had already risen, making the search difficult.

Chelsea Smith has not yet been found as at press time tonight, and the search effort to recover her body continues.

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