A 12-year-old on the way home from celebrating her birthday at the movies died when her family’s car was swept up by floods.
Aaleya Carter was found dead Saturday afternoon hours after being sucked into the drainage system as she and her family attempted to escape the deluge at 1:30 a.m. on Interstate 70 near the St. Louis Airport.
The rest of the group — Carter’s mother, brother and sister — survived the harrowing incident, which occurred as they were attempting to reverse direction to avoid the massive floods, according to police and the girl’s family.
“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,” grandma Tanya Carter told KSDK.
“She was out this morning with her mom and brother, and sister enjoying her birthday,” Carter told Fox 2.
Drivers reported floodwaters as high as two feet during the storm.
“This vehicle attempted to go in the water and attempted a u-turn and go back up Airflight road to avoid the flooded roadway,” a Missouri State Police spokesman said.
“As they turned in the water, the current swept the vehicle off the roadway and into that concrete drain opening.”
Locals gathered at the scene Saturday as first responders scoured the sewage tunnels for the girl. Her family embarked on a massive search that at one point sent them to one of the nearby airport terminals.
The preteen’s body was ultimately found in a creek on the north side of the airport.