May 27, 2013
A 6-year-old girl from Richmond has lost her life in Lake Anna in Louisa County. Police have identified the girl as Asa Gayle. She was a student at J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond.
Investigators say the girl fell into the lake while she was fishing with her grandfather along the shore.
"The rocks get real slippery," said Maj. Donald Lowe with the Louisa County Sheriff's Office. "It's a very steep slope and apparently she slipped on that and fell into the water where the current grabbed her real quick."
There is a strong current in that part of the lake because it is the location where warm water from the nuclear plant meets cold water from the rest of the lake, creating a dangerous undertow.
"This is probably the most dangerous part of the lake," said Lowe. "It will spin you around like you're in a washing machine, then it will suck you straight to the bottom."
When Gayle fell in the water, other people rushed in to help.
"A bystander jumped in to try and rescue her," said Lowe. "She fought the rescuer, which is typical of a drowning victim, and then the current started to pull both of them under. He lost hold of her. The grandfather stepped in to try to rescue both of them and unfortunately they couldn't rescue the child."
The girl was not wearing a life vest. She was, after all, just fishing on the shore. But rescuers say it likely would have made the difference.
"It would have saved her life," said Lowe. "A life vest here would have saved her life."
It took rescue crews a little more than an hour to find Gayle's body.
"We were able to pull her underwater to a private part of the shore and let the grandparents have some private time with her and said a little prayer with them," Lowe said.
Lowe says the victim has a teenage sister who was also at the lake.