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Body found in Philadelphia river likely that of child missing in flood, officials say

Matilda Sheils, 2, and her 9-month-old brother, Conrad Sheils, were swept away in flash floods in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Their mother and four others were killed.
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A young girl's body found in a river in Philadelphia on Friday is strongly believed to be that of 2-year-old Matilda Sheils, who was swept away along with her brother in floodwaters a week ago, officials said.

The child’s body was found in the Delaware River near the city’s wastewater treatment plant after 911 callers reported the body just after 5 p.m., Upper Makefield Fire Chief Tim Brewer said.

Matilda Sheils and her 9-month-old brother, Conrad, have been missing since Saturday, when the flood struck Bucks County, killing their mother.

“Based on 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,” Brewer said at a news conference.

Philadelphia police said its marine unit recovered the child’s body and she was pronounced dead at 5:30 p.m.

Two 911 callers reported a body in the river. The first was at 5:04 p.m. but had limited information, Brewer said, and the second at 5:06 had more details including a location.

The child was found in debris up against a pier, Brewer said. He called it a tragedy and said the entire community has been affected, and their thoughts were with the children’s family.

“We cannot begin to fathom the pain that they are experiencing,” Brewer said.

The body was found 32 miles away from where the children were lost, Brewer said.

“We are grateful that our little Mattie has been brought home to us. We are still praying for the return of Conrad,” the family said in a statement posted Saturday by Upper Makefield Township police.

Family members also expressed “continued gratitude for the overwhelming outpouring of love, support, and concern from the community and from people around the country as rescue workers have worked tirelessly to find Mattie and Conrad.”

“Thank you all, again, for your compassion and your kindness. We are humbled,” the statement said.

The search is continuing for Conrad. Philadelphia police aviation and marine units searched in the river for him Friday, he said.

"We will be in the water tomorrow, as planned," Brewer said. "We will work tirelessly to ensure that Conrad is found."

There were six people in all in a vehicle that was stranded in floodwaters, officials have said.

The father of the children grabbed a 4-year-old boy and reached safety, and Matilda and Conrad’s mother and grandmother grabbed those two children, but all four were swept away. The grandmother survived.

The flooding occurred in Washington Crossing as where 11 vehicles were flooded. As much as 7 inches of rain hit the area, which is alongside the Delaware River, in less than an hour, Brewer has said.

In addition to the children’s mother, 32-year-old Katheryn Seley, four other people died in the floods, officials said.

They were identified by the Bucks County coroner as Enzo Depiero, 78; Linda Depiero, 74; Yuko Love, 64; and Susan Barnhart, 53.