St. Louis girl, 12, dies after being swept away by floodwaters following birthday party

Aaleya Carter, her driving mother and her two siblings were in their car when it was swept off the road early Saturday.

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A young girl is dead after being swept away by flash flooding in St. Louis this weekend. 

Family members identified the child as Aaleya Carter and said she and her mother, who was driving, her brother and sister were in their car when it was swept off the road early Saturday morning by floodwater. As they tried to escape, Carter was swept into a storm drain. Her body was later found in a creek. 

St. Louis child Aaleya Carter (above), her mother, brother and sister were riding in a car when it was swept off the road early Saturday morning by floodwater. She was swept into a storm drain as they tried to escape. (Twitter)

The devastating story was compounded by the fact that the Carters were on the way home from celebrating her birthday — which was Wednesday — with an outing to a local movie theater. 

“Instead of them being able to get out on the driver’s side, they had to get out on the passenger’s side. I guess they didn’t know they were on top of the drainage ditch, and when she got out, she slid right inside the drainage,” Tonya Carter, Aaleya’s grandmother, told KSDK, a local news outlet. 

“The water, I was told by witnesses, got up to two (feet) over the interstate,” according to Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Juston Wheetley. “Some vehicles,” he told Fox 2, “traveling and trying to navigate the water became disabled on the interstate.” 

“This vehicle attempted to go in the water and attempted a U-turn” en-route from Airflight Drive to Interstate 70, Wheetley said Saturday. “As they turned in the water, the current swept the vehicle off the roadway and into that concrete drain opening.”

Congresswoman Cori Bush, a native of St. Louis, was reportedly among those searching for the young girl’s body into the early morning hours. 

“She was fatally injured as a result of being swept in the drain,” said Wheetley. “This was a fluke thing. This is not something we’ve seen before.” 

“I do know that trying to navigate floodwaters is extremely dangerous,” he added. “So we do want to encourage people as more rain comes in, those roadways will become flooded in areas. So stay in your vehicle at all possible.” 

The warning comes too late for Carter’s grieving family. 

Local reporter Gabriela Vidal tweeted pictures of the girl and her mother Sunday, noting, “12-year-old Aaleya Carter & her mother Bridgette were inseparable, according to Aaleya’s aunt. Today, the North St. Louis County community honored Aaleya with a balloon release.” 

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