- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The search resumed yesterday for a girl who fell into the swollen Milwaukee River on her sixth birthday and her older sister who jumped in to save her.

Tia Woodley and her 12-year-old sister, Temisha Warren, were sucked under the water on Sunday near their home.

The girls were playing with their brothers, Jonathan Woodley, 10, and 1-year-old Raygon Warren, on a floating pier on Sunday afternoon. Tia was splashing her foot in the water when she lost her balance, said police Capt. Eric Moore.

Temisha jumped in to try to save Tia, he said, but neither of the girls knew how to swim and they were swept away by the river.

“The water was moving extremely fast because of the tremendous amount of rain we had,” said acting Deputy Chief Brian Glassel.

Milwaukee has received about 7 inches of rain in May, nearly 5 inches above normal for the month.

One boat was searching the river yesterday morning, and another would bring divers later, Chief Glassel said. But he said the divers probably would not go beneath the surface because of the strong current and murky water.

“We will continue to look for them until we find them,” he added.

On Sunday, more than a dozen other friends and relatives watched and waited in the area where the girls were last seen. Later, about 30 returned to the spot for a candlelight vigil.

Tamika Woodley, the girls’ aunt, said the family was trying to stay optimistic.

“I just want to see my nieces,” she said, struggling to hold back tears. “That’s all I want.”

Tia is in kindergarten, and Temisha is in fifth grade.

“Temisha’s an angel,” Miss Woodley said, adding that the eldest child loves to help around the house. “She looked after her sister and brother. She’s a sweetheart.”

Miss Woodley said the children’s mother thought they were at a nearby park.

About 15 officials from the police, fire department and U.S. Coast Guard on four boats and a helicopter helped in the search on Sunday, Fire Department Capt. Michael Olinger said.

Officials said the fire department had a heightened alert for this sort of situation on Sunday, because it was a weekend day with warm weather and a recent heavy rainfall.

Capt. Olinger said parents have to keep an eye on their children.

“If it’s raining like this and the kids aren’t in your eyesight, that’s the time to keep them close and pull them in,” he said. “It might have helped in this situation here.”

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