Sat | Nov 27, 2021

Bodies of teen girls swept away in Black River found

Published:Monday | January 4, 2021 | 12:14 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer

A desperate search for two teenage girls who were on Saturday swept away in a section of Black River, which flows through Coker district in St Elizabeth, ended tragically yesterday when their bodies were recovered hours apart by divers and the Marine Police.

They have been identified as 13-year-old Gabriella Madden, a student of Christiana High School in Manchester, and 15-year-old Felicia Litchman, who attended the Roger Clarke High School in St Elizabeth. Both girls are of Coker district addresses.

Reports by the Siloah police are that shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday, Felicia and Gabriella were among a group of family and friends at the river when another teenager reportedly fell into the river.

Both girls were reportedly trying to assist with the rescue of the other teen when they also fell in and were swept away.

The police were summoned and a search party was organised by community members and the Marine Police. It was called off late on Saturday due to poor lighting.

The search operation was resumed at first light, and Gabriella’s body was recovered about 9 a.m. while Felicia’s was found yesterday afternoon.

“Boy, [it] is a very dangerous river, and it deep an dark, so we haffi just a tek wi time and see if wi could a get the girls dem Saturday,” one fisherman, who gave his name as Mikey, told The Gleaner. “All a di man dem haffi stop the search because a bad light, but as soon as daylight yesterday morning, wi hit back the river and wi nuh stop until wi locate the two little juvenile.”

Relatives of both teens broke down at the river bank as the bodies were retrieved. They were too traumatised to speak to the media.