The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 18, 2009

Children's bodies recovered from river

LEWISBURG — A 22-hour search for two children ended tragically late Monday afternoon when their bodies were found in the Susquehanna River, in six-foot deep water, 150 yards south of the boat access at St. George Street and 30 feet from shore.

The bodies were discovered at about 5:50 p.m. by police divers.

The children, pending identification by parents, are believed to be Assunda Rotolo, 11, of Lewisburg, and her cousin, Leslie Davis Jr., 8, of Mifflinburg.

The two bodies were found “relatively close to each other,” said a distraught Lewisburg police Sgt. Fred Hetrick.

“This is one of the toughest things, when something like this happens to kids,” he said.

Police had been searching for the children since just before 9 p.m. Sunday. At one point on Monday, 10 boats were in the water.

But by 5 p.m., police were wrapping up the search for the day. Twenty people were involved in a ground search. One boat crew, with divers, was still on the river. It was those divers who found the two bodies.

“It was a rather deep area where the bodies were found,” Hetrick said, “and that’s why the boats doing the searches earlier in the day did not discover them. While visibility was pretty clear, when you get down to six to eight feet, the visibility gets down to nothing.”

The divers were “on a systematic bank search when they discovered the bodies,” Hetrick said.

The bodies were taken out of the water at the West Chillisquaque boat dock, on the eastern side of the river, and taken to a hospital in Northumberland County. Hetrick did not know which hospital was used. Northumberland County has jurisdiction over the river.

The children’s parents, Belinda and Steve Rotolo and Leslie Sr. and Jennifer Davis, were informed of the discovery, Hetrick said.

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