High Surf from Hurricane Bill Kills Girl

August 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Coast Guard said a 7-year-old girl has died after a large wave stirred up by Hurricane Bill swept her off a rocky ledge.Hurricane Bill whipped up the surf that crashed onto the rocks in Acadia National Park. At least 25-people stood at the ocean's edge, experiencing what a park guidebook calls "the thunder of the sea," at this vista called "Thunder Hole", suddenly a huge wave swept over the crowd.

"A bunch of people were standing near the edge, and I can understand that because it is compelling, you either want to be near it or you want to be far away from it, and I guess they wanted to be near it, and they got back, and they got soaked by a wave, and then they didn't step back, and another wave came and took them out," said witness Rebecca Rice-Robinson.

Park rangers and the Coast Guard launched an air and sea rescue mission for three people swept out into the 55-degree cold stormy ocean. The high waves and choppy water turned the rescue into a life and death race against time.

"Our motor life boat arrived on the scene, conducted a search. Shortly after 1 o'clock they rescued two people from the water. About 3:30 this afternoon our boat rescued another individual. We believe that everybody is accounted for at this point," said Coast Guard Executive Petty Officer Kevin Smith.

"Waves were 12 to 15 feet, and it was a nice sunny day, so people didn't care so much about getting close to the water, but that's a recipe for disaster, really," said Acadia National Park Chief Ranger Stewart West.

The area was under a high surf advisory as was much of the East Coast on Sunday, as Hurricane Bill roared northward. The storm is now a threat to the Canadian Maritime Provinces, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people.

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