Crews recover teen's body from icy S. Dakota river

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm •  Published: March 15, 2013
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Crews have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl who drowned after a fast-moving, icy river in South Dakota dragged her and another man away as they tried to save her 6-year-old brother, authorities said Friday. The search for the man is ongoing.

Madison Leigh Wallace jumped into the Big Sioux River at Falls Park on Thursday night after her brother either fell into the frothing water or became obscured by the gathering foam, which reached as high as 10 feet, Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras.

Her brother, Garrett, had been climbing on slippery quartzite rocks at the edge of the river at the park in Sioux Falls.

"It's hard to say if he actually ended up in the water or not," Police Chief Doug Barthel said.

After Madison jumped in, Sioux Falls resident Lyle Francis Eagletail, 28, went into the freezing water to help the two, Barthel said.

A friend of Eagletail's who witnessed the tragedy, 21-year-old Napoleon Ducheneaux, said his friend was holding onto the girl and boy by their hands before his hands began sliding. Then, he just "slipped and disappeared," Ducheneaux told The Associated Press late Thursday.

Eagletail's body had not yet been recovered as of Friday evening, when crews suspended their search because of dangerous river conditions. They planned to resume their search Saturday.

Madison was from Vermillion, about 60 miles south of Sioux Falls.

Witness accounts differ on whether someone pushed the boy out of the water or he popped up on a rock before being pulled ashore. Emergency workers carried the boy away from the river wrapped in a blanket and he was not injured, Sideras said.

"These people literally jumped in without thinking of their own safety and trying to rescue that child," Sideras said. "It's a very noble act that they did, and they probably contributed to saving that boy's life."

Nevertheless, the fire chief said the optimum way to help someone who falls into water is to stay on the shore and mark where that person went in.

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