After a long search, authorities report that they have found the body of Krystal Wiggins, an 18-month-old girl who, along with her 4-year-old brother, was ripped away from their mother’s arms and swept downstream by floodwaters in rural Arkansas.
Krystal Wiggins was found Saturday afternoon, ending a weeklong search by law enforcement officials and scores of volunteers, who scoured several miles along Glade Creek in Madison County. The girl’s brother, Damien Wiggins, was found a few days earlier.
The two children are among the casualties of storms and tornadoes that left a trail of destruction across the U.S. South and the Midwest in the past week. The record-breaking floods took an especially deep toll on rural areas in the region, where many lower- and working-class communities are struggling to right themselves.
At least 20 people have been killed across several states in the past few days, but the stormy waters were deadliest in Arkansas, where at least seven people, including the two siblings, have died.
The accident occurred April 29, when the family was moving to a new house owned by the children’s grandparents. Their mother, who had loaded up her SUV with her children’s clothes and other belongings, went the only route she knew. It took them over a low-water bridge along Glade Creek near Huntsville, Ark., a town of about 2,000. That’s where the floodwaters hit them, flipping the SUV and carrying the mother downstream as she tried to hold on to her children.
Rescuers found the mother shortly after, about a mile away from the SUV. Her children were nowhere to be found.
“She had wrapped her arms around them and the water just took them away,” the mother’s sister, Tina Westlin, told the Washington Post.
Damien was found Monday, two days later, a little more than five kilometres from where the SUV stalled, according to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Krystal’s body was found 15 kilometres away.
“They’re relieved that the children will be able to be buried together and laid to rest together,” Laird said Sunday. “The best thing is that they’re found, that they’re together and there’s no one who’s been left behind.”