10-year-old nearly drowns on Meramec River

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SULLIVAN, MO (KTVI) - A 10-year-old girl trapped underwater by tree roots was taken to St. Louis Children’s Hospital in critical but unstable condition, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.  The girl was floating on the Meramec River Saturday when she went under.

Witnesses say she became entangled in tree roots, and was pulled under by the current.  They estimate she was underwater for 5-10 minutes.  Someone in the area had a medical background and began performing CPR until first responders arrived.

The Sullivan Fire Protection District was one of several agencies responding to the call at Meramec State Park.   Chief Rich White says the girl was wearing a life jacket and sitting inside a floating tube.

“It’s just a freak accident,” said White.

Jacob Woodcock was working in the park Saturday when first responders arrived.

“She was not responsive.  She was definitely unconscious,” said Woodcock.

White and Woodcock say the stretch of the Meramec where the girl was trapped is notorious for causing problems.

“We’ve lost about 5 canoes there already this year,” said Woodcock.

“Even boats have a hard time navigating to it,” said White.  “You really have to know what you’re doing.”

White adds that even if you think you know a river, rainfall can change everything.

“It changes the way the river is,” said White.  “That one section in there is just a bad spot.”​