An autopsy performed on a 2-year-old girl who died in Rice Lake on the night of Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, has been ruled an accidental drowning, and no charges will be filed in connection with the case, District Attorney Brian Wright said Tuesday, Dec. 23.
“The death … was a tragic accident, the circumstances of which were unforeseeable,” Wright said in a press release issued jointly by his office and the Rice Lake Police Department.
The investigation showed the child and her father were asleep at the home, but she woke up.
“(The child) could walk very well on her own and had recently learned how to open the door,” the statement said.
When the father awakened and realized his daughter was not lying close by, he called for her, then noticed the main door outside was cracked open. He ran outside and called, but couldn’t find her. After a search of about five minutes, the father called 911.
Citizens and first responders came to the neighborhood in response to a Code Red alert issued by dispatchers. A citizen volunteer found “tiny footprints right next to the Red Cedar River.”
Rice Lake officers used a thermal imaging device and located the child about 30 yards downstream from where her footprints had been located. Lifesaving efforts later failed, the statement said.
Authorities praised the work of “police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and citizens who came together to search.
“(It) is an outstanding example of the care and compassion we have for one another,” the statement said.