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Search suspended for missing teens, 8-year-old in Mississippi River

A teen boy and girl and an 8-year-old girl were missing after last being seen going into the river before sunset, according to the Coast Guard.

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard officials announced Sunday night that the search for the two teenagers and an 8-year-old child who fell into the Mississippi River Saturday evening has been suspended. 

“The decision to suspend any search and rescue case is never easy but considering the extensive search efforts of our Coast Guard men and women, in conjunction with other response agencies, I’ve made the difficult decision to suspend our active search for the three children,” said Capt. Kelly Denning, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans commander. “Our prayers are with the families during this difficult time.”

Family tells us 14-year-old Brandy Wilson and her 15-year-old boyfriend took her 8-year-old sister, Ally Wilson, and her 5-year-old brother to the park at the foot of the Crescent City Connection to “give her mom a break.”  

Brandy and Ally’s mother, Octavia Wilson, said Brandy fell into the river and then her sister and the 15-year-old boy went in to rescue her. All three children were pulled down by the current and haven’t been seen since.

The 5-year-old ran home to get help, according to Octavia Wilson.

“I need my kids. They know I need them,” Octavia Wilson said. “My daughter said she was trying to give me a break. I don’t need a break. I need my children.” 

Family tells us the US Coast Guard is attempted to get a dive team into the water Sunday to search for the missing children, but rainy weather has made it difficult. New Orleans Police and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s office were also at the levee to assist with the search. 

The girls' aunt, Shwron Johnson, said the family has lost hope that the children will be found alive. They're just hoping they can give them a proper burial.

"I know that they not breathing in that water," Johnson said. "I just hope that they could get their bodies back all in one part so we can do the proper things and give them a proper service. That’s the only hope we have.”

The Coast Guard ended efforts after searching 93 miles along the Mississippi River for a total of 55 hours.

The Coast Guard said the units involved in the search included: 

  • A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew
  • Two Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team New Orleans boat crews
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Sawfish crew
  • Coast Guard Station New Orleans boatcrew
  • New Orleans Police and Fire Departments
  • Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • St, Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

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