10:39 AM PDT, July 12, 2021
A 12-year-old St. Louis girl who had just celebrated her birthday at the movies with her family was killed in a freak accident after she was swallowed up in a storm drain when her family’s car got swept up in floodwaters, according to a published report.
Aaleya Carter and her family were driving along Interstate 70 near the AiFlight Drive entrance ramp by the St. Louis airport around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday when their car ran into dangerous floodwaters from overnight storms. As the driver attempted to do a u-turn to avoid the flooded roadways, their car was swept off the road and onto a concrete drain opening, a Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) spokesman said, Fox 2 Now reported.
The driver and two younger children were able to get out of the car, but Carter sadly got overpowered by the water and was swept into a storm outlet, the news outlet reported.
“Instead of them being able to get out on the driver’s side, they had to get out on the passenger’s side,” Aaleya’s grandmother Tanya Carter told KSDK. “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.”
Carter’s body was later found in Coldwater Creek near James S. McDonnell Boulevard, where the storm drainage system lets out, according to KSDK.
Floodwater reached as high as two feet on the interstate, according to reports.
Tanya Carter said her granddaughter was out enjoying her birthday with her mother, brother and sister, The New York Post reported.
There were overnight rescue efforts to find the young girl. People gathered at the scene to search for the preteen, including Missouri 1st District Congresswoman Cori Bush, KSDK reported.
There was also a false report that she had been found alive, Fox 2 reported.
The MSHP spokesperson called the unexpected tragedy “a fluke thing,” Fox reported.
“She was fatally injured as a result of being swept in the drain,” he said. “This is not something we’ve seen before.”
Aaleya Carter had just turned 12 on Wednesday, a report said.
On Sunday the North St. Louis County joined together to honor Carter’s life, KMOV4 News reported. The memorial was also an opportunity for the family to express their gratitude for all the volunteers who helped in finding the young girl.
“I don’t even know. I’m lost. I don’t know what to say,” said Carter’s mother, Bridgette Carter.