Bodies of two children pulled from Susquehanna River
LEWISBURG - The bodies of two children were pulled from the Susquehanna River Monday evening, bringing a tragic end to an extensive search for the youngsters who had been missing since Sunday night.
Lewisburg Police Sgt. Fred Hetrick reported the bodies of Assunda Rotolo, 11, of Lewisburg, and Leslie "Junior" Davis Jr., 8, of Mifflinburg, were pulled from the river around 5:20 p.m., near Rotolo's home.
"Two divers found both bodies approximately 200 feet from a boat dock near Rotolo's home, in approximately 6 to 8 feet of water," Hetrick said. "Most of the water was clear, except for that one area where the water was murky. The divers went in, and that's where they found the bodies."
The children's deaths have been ruled accidental by Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley, who pronounced them dead in the river at 6:05 p.m. Monday.
Kelley reported the manner of death was "freshwater drowning" for both Rotolo and Davis Jr., who were identified as family friends by police. Autopsies will not be performed on the children.
Rotolo and Davis Jr. reportedly told family members they were going to the river before they left Rotolo's home between 7 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. At 8:55 p.m., they were reported missing and a search ensued.
Boats and a state police helicopter were called to the area Sunday and were using thermal cameras to search for registers of body heat. The children weren't found Sunday, and police suspended the night's search at 11:20 p.m.
Hetrick reported crews resumed the search at 8 a.m. Monday with cadaver dogs in tow.
"After we got no hits with the cadaver dogs, we put eight more boats in the water, trolling the riverbank and passing specific areas," Hetrick said Monday by phone.
Tracking dogs were searching the surrounding area, and a secondary ground search was conducted by volunteers. Hetrick said police were also going door-to-door, looking for the children.
"People are giving us access to their garages and sheds, looking for any signs that they could be hiding somewhere," he said Monday afternoon.
Around 5:15 p.m., Hetrick said crews were conducting their final ground search of the day. Shortly after, it was reported the children had been found dead.
After the bodies were pulled from the river Monday evening, they were transported to a boat launch in West Chillisquaque Township, where representatives from the Northumberland County Coroner's office picked up the bodies, Hetrick reported.
A number of friends gathered outside the Rotolo home Monday evening. They did not wish to comment on the situation.
Hetrick thanked all those involved in search efforts Sunday and Monday.