Search for 6-year-old girl who fell into Pennsylvania creek now considered recovery, not rescue

By6abc Digital Staff, Bryanna Gallagher, Briana Smith WPVI logo
Monday, March 25, 2024
Recovery operations continue for 6-year-old girl who fell into Delaware County creek
As of Sunday afternoon, authorities say this is no longer a search and rescue effort, but a recovery effort.

CHESTER, Pennsylvania -- A recovery operation continues Monday in the search for a young girl who was swept away in a rain-swollen southeastern Pennsylvania creek over the weekend.

Crews will return to the water Monday morning in hopes of finding 6-year-old Lin'ajah Brooker as the community faces the reality that the rescue has now shifted to recovery.

Authorities in Chester County said Brooker was reported missing at about 7 p.m. Saturday after she slipped and fell into fast-moving Chester Creek, near 8th Street. Several fire companies took part in a search for the next three-and-a-half hours while the Coast Guard continued searching through Saturday night.

The Chester Fire Commissioner says three hours was the longest someone could survive in the cold, fast-moving water.

Boats with thermal imaging were also used to scan the water while crews searched through nearby trees and debris.

"There's a lot of debris in the water, which poses a potential hazard to our responders, but they've been trained to deal with those situations," said Chester Fire Commissioner John-Paul Shirley. "We have light towers set up, we're also flying some drones that have infrared and thermal imaging technology."

As of Sunday afternoon, authorities say this is no longer a search and rescue effort, but a recovery effort.

Boats and drones were also used Sunday in both directions on the creek and on both sides of the Delaware River where the creek flows into it.

Brooker's grandmother says they held out hope for as long as they could and are now focusing on remembering the 6-year-old.

"My emotions are all off hinge. I haven't had sleep. I can't eat. The only thing I'm thinking about is finding her," said Brooker's grandmother, Kimberly Richardson.

The fire commissioner told Action News that Brooker went missing while she was playing with two others.

Authorities say three girls were playing near the creek when two fell in. One managed to get out of the water while Brooker was swept away, according to investigators.

"She went down a little too far with the other kids, and my 7-year-old daughter tried to hold her and she was holding onto my daughter's coat and I guess the wind took her," said Tyeesha Reynolds, Brooker's aunt.

After the girl went under, Reynolds said it was all hands on deck from the family.

"My nephew, he's 19, he jumped in the water. My 12-year-old nephew jumped into the water," she said. "We all were trying to hope for the best, we're still hoping for the best."

"It's really hard to say anything, other than that we're praying, we're hoping and we appreciate the prayers and support that I understand is coming from all over the country right now," said Chester Mayor Stefan Roots.

The family said they are also mourning Brooker's sister who passed away on this exact day five years ago.

Richardson said Brooker was a gift to be around.

"She loved to dance. She was one of a kind and she will truly be missed in my heart," she said.

Shirley said authorities will search the creek one final time Monday morning. This time, they'll work with the Pennsylvania State Police and use sonar technology.

Heavy rain soaked the Philadelphia region on Saturday.

Parts of Delaware and Montgomery counties saw flooding as a result of the hours-long downpour. Some areas even temporarily closed off roadways due to flooding.

Anyone with information on this incident is urged to contact the police immediately.