March 17, 2010

Girl dies after being swept into water

From staff reports

A young girl from New York was killed Sunday when a huge wave swept her and other visitors into the water off Acadia National Park.

A 'rogue wave’ hit about 20 people who were standing on the platform at Thunder Hole, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, one of several agencies involved in the incident. Three people were plucked from the water by a lifeboat crew, including a girl who had no vital signs, according to the Coast Guard.

The girl, who was 7, died and her parents were injured, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. He said the family was from New York, but had no further information about them this evening.

Another nine people were taken to the hospital, according to the Coast Guard.

Two others were feared to be missing earlier in the day, but it was later determined that everyone was accounted for, according to Petty Officer James Rhodes. 

The large waves hit Thunder Hole as the combination of an astronomically high tide and a storm surge from Hurricane Bill created dangerous surf conditions along most of Maine’s coast. Several York County beaches were closed to swimming as a result.

Thunder Hole is a cavernous inlet where incoming waves striking rocks can produce a sound like that of a distant clap of thunder. Onlookers can walk down a set of stairs to a railed platform where they can look down into the cave.

Hurricane Bill passed about 300 miles to the southeast of Portland, Apffel said, but created enough of a storm surge to worry officials. A surf advisory posted Saturday was due to expire tonight.

Several towns in York County closed their beaches to swimming on Sunday. Red flags were posted on all the beaches in Biddeford, Kennebunk, Old Orchard Beach, Ogunquit, Saco, Wells, and York.

Access to Camp Ellis in Saco was restricted, police said.

In Scarborough, police said Higgins Beach and Scarborough Beach, a town-owned beach, remained open despite the storm surge.

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