Family expresses gratitude after body believed to be missing girl found; search for boy continues

22 July 2023

WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. (AP) — The family of a 2-year-old girl swept away along with another child by a flash flood that engulfed their vehicle on a Pennsylvania road is expressing gratitude at the discovery of a body believed to be hers.

The body was found early Friday evening in the Delaware River near a Philadelphia wastewater treatment plant about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from where Matilda Sheils was carried away, authorities said Friday night. The Philadelphia medical examiner’s office plans an autopsy. The search continues for Matilda’s 9-month-old brother, Conrad.

“We are grateful that our little Mattie has been brought home to us. We are still praying for the return of Conrad,” the family said in a statement posted Saturday by Upper Makefield Township police.

Family members also expressed “continued gratitude for the overwhelming outpouring of love, support, and concern from the community and from people around the country as rescue workers have worked tirelessly to find Mattie and Conrad.”

“Thank you all, again, for your compassion and your kindness. We are humbled,” the statement said.

The family from Charleston, South Carolina, was visiting relatives and friends in the area and were on their way to a barbecue on the evening of July 15 when their vehicle was hit by a “wall of water,” according to Upper Makefield Fire Chief Tim Brewer. Their mother, 32-year-old Katie Seley, was also killed in the flood, authorities said.

The children’s father, Jim Sheils, grabbed the couple’s 4-year-old son, while Seley and a grandmother grabbed the other children, Brewer said. Sheils and the son made it to safety, but Seley and the grandmother were swept away. The grandmother survived.

Four other people drowned in the area, according to the Bucks County Coroner’s office: Enzo Depiero, 78, and Linda Depiero, 74, of Newtown; Yuko Love, 64, of Newtown; and Susan Barnhart, 53, of Titusville, New Jersey.

The deaths and the search for the children have led to an outpouring of support, particularly in social media, in the suburb about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Philadelphia.

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