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Body of 2-year-old drowning victim found in Philadelphia


Late Friday afternoon, what is believed to be the body of one of the young children who died in the raging floodwaters in Upper Makefield Township on July 15 was found in the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Upper Makefield Township Police said.

Authorities believe the child is 2-year-old Matilda “Mattie” Sheils, whose 9-month-old brother, Conrad, is still missing, according to police.

An anonymous caller called Philadelphia Police at 5:04 p.m. with limited information, saying there was a body in the Delaware River. Another call minutes later described the child and the location near the Philadelphia Waste Disposal Plant in the 3900 block of North Delaware Avenue, south of the Betsy Ross Bridge. The child’s body was found in the debris against a pier at the waste water management plant.

The Philadelphia Marine Unit removed the child’s body from the water and took it to the fire department paramedics waiting on shore. At 5:30 p.m. the child was pronounced dead and taken to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, police said.

“Based upon the physical description of the child and the clothing found on the child, we strongly believe that 2-year-old Mattie Sheils has been found pending further identification processes,” said officials.

“Although Mattie was found 32 miles away from where we last saw her, she has never been closer to all of our hearts than she is now,” said police in a statement. “We ask that you please respect the privacy of the Sheils and Seley families as they process all that has happened to their families over these last seven tumultuous days. We cannot begin to fathom the pain they are experiencing, but we will never leave their side as they deal with this tragedy.”

The search for Conrad will continue, officials said, as they deploy K9 teams and divers.

The children’s mother, Katie Seley, 32, drowned in the flash flood. The children’s father, James Shiels, and their 4-year-old son, Jack, survived, as did Seley’s, mother, Dahlia. The family was visiting from Charleston, S.C. and was traveling to a family barbecue when the flood waters erupted near Washington Crossing.

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