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Aug 27, 2013

Seven year old drowning victim’s body is found

After scouring the Old Belize River since Sunday night, the body of a seven year old girl was found this morning. The Sand Hill school girl was at a birthday celebration at Isabella Bank when she fell into the river. This morning her body was found under a tree about half mile away in Flowers Bank and her remains were laid to rest this afternoon in her home village.  While the family is grieving her untimely death, they finally have closure to her tragic passing. Duane Moody reports.

 

Just after ten this morning, the lifeless body of seven year old Chelsie Smith was discovered approximately two miles from where she went down into the Old Belize River and perished. After a day and a half of search by the Belize National Coast Guard, the Belize Defense Force and the Police Department, the decomposed body was found in some shrubbery half a mile from the village of Flowers Bank.  It was not an easy task given the murky waters of the overflowing river.

 

Joshua Trapp, Assisted Coast Guard in Search

Joshua Trapp

“The search started on Sunday right after the Coast Guard was notified. The Coast Guard started to work since then and this morning we started our mission like after seven and we found the body approximately ten minutes after ten o’clock this morning.”

 

Reporter

“In what condition was it found?”

 

Joshua Trapp

“We found the body under a tree in some rambles. OUT 05:25

 

Ensign Ray Good

Ensign Ray Good, Dive Assistant, Belize National Coast Guard

“We did some checks and noticed that the water was very flooded, dirty and we needed to use different techniques using the line and search patterns because there was zero visibility. So we had to use line and feel our way and search in a pattern so that we don’t miss anything. Do some adjustment due to the condition of the flooding water and debris flowing through. The river was really moving fast and the condition was very dangerous. So we had to make that assessment first and then we react after that.”

 

Chelsie was with her mother, Pamela Olivaria, and her four other siblings at a birthday party in Isabella Bank in Belize River Valley. But the birthday celebration turned tragic when Chelsie slipped into the river and didn’t resurface. The incident has crushed her father, Christopher Smith, who says that he lost his only daughter.

 

Christopher Smith, Father of Deceased

Christopher Smith

“Relief that finally we could put this ordeal behind us; just try… I noh really know weh I go from here but I just glad that I found my daughter and I’m ready to bury her and try to find some peace in that.”

 

Duane Moody

“She was seven years old; tell us about some of the fun moments that you will remember about her.”

 

Christopher Smith

“The thing I wah remember the most about my daughter is that she was always a happy child, always smiling, always happy. Whenever she took pictures, she positioned herself like a model. So the seven years I had with my daughter, I will always cherish that. Thank god fi di seven years. At first I felt hurted; asking god why. But couple a days after I come to grips to understand that dah his choice; that’s how he set it out and just have to live with it.”

 

The body was taken to Isabella Bank where a post mortem examination was conducted on site. While results have not been revealed as yet, Rural Executive Officer, Christopher Noble gave a word of advice.

 

ASP Christopher Noble

ASP Christopher Noble, Rural Executive Officer

“Be cognizant of your surroundings. It doesn’t matter if you live on the river bank or you come to the river bank. Wherever there is a water way, be cognizant of it; be cautious of the persons in the water and we ask that everybody, look out for the child man. If you see a child in the water, get the attention of a parent. If you see a child going under, that would be room for concern. At this stage, we cannot say that it is negligence; we cannot say that it is anything. We are compiling, we are going to look into it and we will have the investigation reveal just that. We may use other agencies and involve other agencies. But my appeal is please man have a heart and look out. They are only kids and they might not know better.”

 

According to relatives, Chelsie’s body will be laid to rest this evening in her home village of Sand Hill.

 

Christopher Smith

“We brought one of her favorite dress and she had a sheet with her name on it that she really liked so we put that in the box also. And we’ll try to have some closure later on this evening with a funeral in Sand Hill.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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