Lauren C. Smith, 03-06-06

In brief, Published: March 8, 2006


Girl drowns in fall through thin ice

A 5-year-old girl fell through river ice and drowned Monday afternoon on Nunivak Island in the Bering Sea, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Lauren C. Smith had gone with her father, Dale Smith, to the Mekoryuk River, a couple of miles from their home village of Mekoryuk, to get water for their house, troopers said.

The girl appeared to have fallen through a hole in the ice that was layered over with thin ice, they said. The accident happened about 1 p.m.

When he saw what had happened, Smith tied a rope to his snowmachine and, with the other end tied around his waist, jumped into the hole in an attempt to find her, said troopers. He was unsuccessful, they said.

Volunteers from the village searched for the girl. Her body was found downriver about 8 p.m., troopers said.

The girl's body was to be flown to Anchorage for an autopsy at the state medical examiner's request, they said. "No foul play is suspected," troopers said in a written statement.

Mekoryuk, which has about 190 residents, is on the north shore of Nunivak, which is 30 miles offshore from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

-- Anchorage Daily News