Girl, 3, found cling­ing to dead mother in flood­wa­ters

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - NATION & WORLD - By Jamie Stengle

DAL­LAS — A shiv­er­ing 3-year-old girl found cling­ing to the body of her drowned mother in a rainswollen canal in south­east Texas was likely saved by her mom’s ef­fort to carry her child to safety from Har­vey’s floods, po­lice said Wed­nes­day.

Beau­mont po­lice iden­ti­fied the mother as Co­lette Sul­cer, 41, and said her daugh­ter was be­ing treated for hy­pother­mia but do­ing well.

When res­cuers found the mother and daugh­ter, the girl was on her mother’s back, hold­ing on, said po­lice Of­fi­cer Ha­ley Mor­row.

“I en­vi­sion what I would do if that was me in that sit­u­a­tion and that’s what I would do: I would put my child on my back and try to swim to safety or what­ever,” Mor­row said.

Sul­cer’s ve­hi­cle got stuck Tues­day af­ter­noon in the flooded park­ing lot of an of­fice park just off In­ter­state 10, said Capt. Brad Penis­son of the fire res­cue depart­ment in Beau­mont. Squalls from Har­vey were pound­ing Beau­mont with up to 2 inches of rain an hour with 38 mph gusts, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice.

A wit­ness saw the woman take her daugh­ter and try to walk to safety when the swift cur­rent of a flooded drainage canal next to the park­ing lot swept them both away, Penis­son said.

Mor­row said the woman’s ac­tions prob­a­bly saved her little girl’s life.

“When they found her she was still up out of the wa­ter,” Mor­row said.

A po­lice and fire res­cue team in a boat caught up to them a half-mile down­stream from Su­cler’s ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to Penis­son.

Res­cuers pulled them into the boat just be­fore they would have gone un­der a rail­road tres­tle where the wa­ter was so high that the boat could not have fol­lowed. First re­spon­ders lifted the child from her mother’s body and tried to re­vive the woman, but she never re­gained con­scious­ness.

A cit­i­zen al­lowed first re­spon­ders to load the mother and daugh­ter into his truck and he brought them to a wait­ing am­bu­lance, Mor­row said.

The child was taken to the Chris­tus St. El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in Beau­mont, and was ex­pected to be re­leased Wed­nes­day.

Of­fi­cer Carol Ri­ley said the girl was do­ing “very well” and was chatty.

“Ev­ery­body at the hos­pi­tal and the of­fi­cers just fell in love with her,” Ri­ley said.

At least 25 peo­ple have been killed by Har­vey since Fri­day, when it made land­fall in Texas as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane.

A weak­en­ing Har­vey was down­graded to a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion late Wed­nes­day and is ex­pected by fore­cast­ers to dis­si­pate within three to four days.

Beau­mont po­lice Of­fi­cer Ha­ley Mor­row said the woman’s ac­tions prob­a­bly saved her life.

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