PAX, W.V. – Deputies said they recovered an 11-week-old boy's body Friday after the vehicle he was in was swept away by floodwaters in West Virginia.
Officials said they found the vehicle about 2:30 p.m. local time in an area where 18 feet of water had been reported. The baby's body was found inside.
Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley told FOX Weather that a recovery mission was being conducted along Paint Creek.
"It's just a bad situation nobody ever likes to deal with in our profession," Fridley said.
Deputies received a 911 call from the mother about 8:30 a.m. after she said her vehicle became stuck in high water and was washed away. The mother told deputies that she misjudged the water and drove into it before realizing it was too deep. The vehicle was swept away when the mother attempted to retrieve the baby from it.
Fridley said that muddy water with visibility near zero complicated search and rescue efforts, but the search resumed as the waters began to recede. That was when investigators were able to locate the vehicle.
"It's just devastating, not just for the family but for the small community down here," Fridley said.
As much as 3 inches of rain fell across much of southern West Virginia overnight, with higher amounts in some spots. According to the sheriff, the area deputies are searching is also close to a creek and prone to flooding.
"All the years I've been here … we've never seen it this high," Fridley said.
The sheriff said he cannot stress enough the importance of avoiding floodwaters, noting that the depth of the water is hard to judge.
"Standing water is dangerous, and this proves it right here," Fridley said. "Be smart, and don't try to go through standing water. It doesn't take but a couple of inches to wash your car away."