Baby Christina, Part I

On July 25, 2011 Paige Cooper’s 2 ½ year old daughter, Christina Norris, drowned in the Ohio River.   Christina was with family members on the shore when she disappeared around 11 AM.   Law enforcement responded quickly, sending rescue workers, divers, officers, firefighters, and EMTs.   KYK9 was part of the search efforts.

I needed to collect a scent article so that K9 Remy and K9 Scout could search for Christina from the point last seen.   A police officer escorted me to Paige’s house and into her bedroom, where she sat crying surrounded by family and friends.  I introduced myself, explaining that I was a dog handler and that my dogs Remy and Scout would be searching for Christina.  I told her I needed to collect Christina’s scent.  Paige got up and led me to a closet and pointed to a tiny outfit that Christina had been wearing before she changed to go to the beach.  Paige stayed with me as I collected Christina’s clothes.  As I left she told me that to look for a purple child-chair along the shore, where Christina usually sat.

As I walked down the hill to the shore, I saw the purple child-chair perched along the water’s edge about 20 yards upstream from the search crews.  I walked Scout to the chair.  Scout took scent and headed up-stream away from the search crews.   An officer brusquely stated the obvious: “The river doesn’t even go that way.”   But that did not matter as Scout said Christina’s scent trail went upstream, so upstream we went.   After 50-70 yards, Scout went straight to the water’s edge and waded in, anxiously giving her fear alert.  My heart raced.  Not good.  So, I raced to put Scout back in the truck so I could run Remy.  Starting from the purple chair, Remy headed upstream and, like Scout, after about 50-70 yards, Remy turned into the river, giving her fear alert.

I reported the dogs’ findings to the police who had cadaver dogs working down-stream.  I took them upstream and the cadaver dog alerted where Scout and Remy had indicated from the bank.   I returned Christina’s outfit to the house, but did not see Paige.  Christina’s body was recovered early the next morning.