Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13
A 7-year-old swept into the Atlantic Ocean at Acadia National Park on Sunday by Hurricane Bill's waves was pronounced dead after being pulled from the cold waters, while 13 others also hit by the massive wave were injured with a variety of broken bones and bruises.
The unidentified girl was among three park visitors washed into the ocean. There were reports that two others also were missing in the ocean, but Acadia Chief Ranger Stuart West couldn't confirm them.
“We don’t know. We received a report that as many as five people were washed into the ocean, we can only confirm that three were," Ranger West said.
The prospect of watching high seas smash into the coast of Maine brought thousands to the park Sunday. An estimated 10,000 visitors were gathered along the park shoreline near the popular Thunder Hole, a crack in the park's granite foundation that features spectacular wave explosions during high seas, around noon when one of the waves washed over those gathered to watch.
“We’ve had seas the result of Hurricane Bill between 12 and 15 feet. That's a big attraction to everyone in the area, seeing the waves crashing into shore," said the chief ranger. “At the same time we had those folks washed into the ocean, we had 11 other injuries. A dislocated shoulder, a broken leg, broken ankle and a broken wrist, I believe.”
The incident spurred an air, land, and sea search for the missing. While park rangers searched the shoreline for the 7-year-old and any others who might have been knocked into the ocean, the Coast Guard had a 47-foot cruiser searching the waters, while overhead a helicopter and Falcon jet were also searching, Ranger West said. The Maine Marine Patrol also had a boat participating in the search.
Soon after the visitors were swept into the ocean, Coast Guard rescuers were able to pull a 12-year-old girl and the father of the 7-year-old to safety about 150 yards from shore, he said. There were unconfirmed reports that the man had jumped into the ocean in a bid to save his daughter, said the ranger. The two were taken to a Bangor, Maine, hospital and reportedly were doing OK, said Ranger West.
Sometime later the Coast Guard searchers spotted the young girl.
Immediately after the incident park authorities closed Ocean Drive to the public. Rangers then began the task of trying to determine whether there were any vehicles whose owners were missing.
"We’re trying to do what we can to determine if those two other phantom folks actually fell in the water or not," he said. "We're trying to do a count of the vehicles to see if there’s an unaccounted owner or owners to determine if someone is missing."
While the day had dawned cloudy at Acadia, by afternoon it was mostly sunny with temperatures approaching 80 degrees. The ocean temperature, though, was a brisk 55 degrees, according to the chief ranger.