TOWAMENCIN TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WFMZ/CNN) - Police say a 5-year-old girl with autism is dead after she wandered away from her Pennsylvania home during Tropical Storm Isaias and likely got swept away in floodwaters.
After a 22-hour search, rescue crews found the body of missing 5-year-old Eliza Talal, who wandered away from home Tuesday in Towamencin Township, Pennslyvania, while Tropical Storm Isaias was causing flooding in the area. The little girl had autism and was nonverbal.
Police Chief Tim Dickinson called it the result no one was hoping for.
“We have hope until there’s no longer hope, and I can tell you that these police officers, first responders and community members searched tirelessly for Eliza,” he said.
More than 100 community volunteers, including Tiffany Tuck, searched the area for Eliza throughout the night. The girl’s body was found next to Towamencin Creek Wednesday morning in an area that was flooded the day before.
“As time got on and we heard the dogs lost her scent, that’s when it really got worrisome for me,” Tuck said. “It’s hard. At least it’s closure but not the answer we were hoping for.”
Police believe Eliza wandered out of her home during the height of the storm and got swept up in the creek, which borders her family’s backyard.
Neighbor Susan Kelly shot video of the swollen creek during the storm.
“Nobody could have made it through. It was like a raging river,” she said. “Even an adult wouldn’t have - you wouldn’t even attempt to go near it. It was that bad.”
Dickinson said he had never seen flooding that bad in the area, not even when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.
An investigation is still underway, but authorities do not suspect foul play in the girl’s death.