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Search scaled back for little girl lost in Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry

Search continues for girl swept away in Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department Lt. Anthony Bejaran discusses the search to find a 5-year-old girl who fell into the Stanislaus River on Sunday.
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Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department Lt. Anthony Bejaran discusses the search to find a 5-year-old girl who fell into the Stanislaus River on Sunday.

The search for a 5-year-old girl who disappeared and is presumed drowned after slipping into the Stanislaus River Sunday entered its third day Tuesday.

Family members of Matilda Ortiz camped out in the Knights Ferry area, determined to stay at the scene until the little girl is found.

Matilda was with her father and some friends near the popular historic covered bridge area on Sunday when several members of the group fell into the fast-moving river. Matilda’s dad tried to help but began struggling in the high, fast, cold water, authorities said.

Bystanders got him out, and one person briefly grasped Matilda but couldn’t hold on. She was swept away by the current.

A massive search Sunday and Monday yielded no sign of the child. On Tuesday, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Royjindar Singh said the search was scaled down to deputies looking along the shore and one boat from the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department.

Singh said Tuesday afternoon the search had concluded for the day. He did not know whether searchers would return Wednesday morning.

Several family members of Matilda’s have remained at the scene. Community members have been coordinating donations of tents, bedding and meals.

Patty Guerra is managing editor at The Modesto Bee. She has held several writing and editing roles since starting at The Bee in 1999. She’s a graduate of Fresno State.
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