Toddler's body pulled from Ohio River
GALLATIN COUNTY, Ill. — What started as a fun trip to the river for some fishing Wednesday night turned into a desperate fight for survival for a local mother and her 17-month-old daughter.
Now, one family is planning a funeral.
Kaylan Perry and her daughter Charisma McGuire were sitting inside a truck Wednesday night on the banks of the Ohio River, while Perry's boyfriend was fishing. But the little girl accidentally kicked the gearshift, sending the truck rolling toward the river.
This happened near Old Shawneetown, Illinois, in Gallatin County. Rescue teams searched the 50-feet-deep water from Wednesday night until early Thursday morning, when they found the truck with the child's body inside.
Investigators with ISP don't suspect foul play.
"That particular spot below the Shawneetown Bridge is really deep," said Steve Galt, Gallatin County EMA coordinator.
Galt shudders when he's called to come to that spot.
"About 15 or 18 years ago, we had six people killed there," he said.
Wednesday night, it only took him three minutes to get there because he knows the area can be trouble.
Investigators said the toddler, Charisma McGuire, kicked the gearshift, putting the truck in drive.
Her mother, Kaylan Perry, fought to stop the truck in vain and finally swam to safety after hitting the water. The Ford Ranger even rolled over Perry's boyfriend as he tried to stop it.
Other witnesses jumped in to try to rescue the young girl but the truck filled with water and sank quickly.
"The truck ended up being in 50 feet of water when the divers found it," said Galt.
Gallatin County Sheriff Shannon Bradley said even as darkness fell, divers still did their duty. But as the night went on, the mission turned from rescue to recovery.
"Nobody was willing to give up, you know, but after the first hour you see everybody's head drop," said Bradley.
Rescuers prayed that they'd find a child alive but later in the morning, they realized that wouldn't be the case.
ISP investigators told Local 6 the girl's autopsy will be conducted in neighboring White County, Illinois. It's likely no charges will be filed in the investigation.