May 31—NEOSHO, Mo. — A search for the body of a missing 12-year-old girl, lost Wednesday to swift waters in Shoal Creek, ended Sunday.
Kaylin Brown's body was located at about 6:45 p.m. about 3.26 miles downstream from Lime Kiln Conservation Area, according to a news release from the Neosho Police Department. Her body was recovered by the Missouri State Highway Patrol at about 8 p.m., and transported to Clark's Funeral Home in Neosho.
Limn Kiln has been the scene of multiple drownings and water rescues over the years.
According to the Missouri State Water Patrol, Brown was wading below the lowhead dam at Lime Kiln Park when she was caught in a hydraulic below the dam and pulled under water and drowned.
The recovery caps a search that was delayed by severe storms on Thursday and rising floodwaters on Friday.
Officials with the Missouri State Water Patrol, Missouri Department of Conservation, Newton County Search and Rescue, Rapid Response Services and others assisted the Neosho fire and police departments with the search.
Trevor Hicks, 34, was also pulled from the water after he tried to rescue the girl, according to a news release from police. Hicks was taken to a local hospital, where he was initially listed in critical condition last week.
Baird said emergency responders were called at 4:14 p.m. Wednesday, rescuing Hicks and beginning the search for Brown.
Low head dam
Brown and Hicks were downstream of a dam that has been blamed for drownings in the past.
The dam at Lime Kiln is a low head dam — structurally, it is a 6-foot-tall wall that pools water for the city of Neosho's drinking water supply.
The dam's structure creates a drowning hazard, however. Water spills over the top of the dam, and the force of that spilling water creates a vortex on the spill side that is difficult for swimmers to escape.
Baird said conducting a search operation when the vortex is raging from high waters is virtually impossible.
"It's unsafe for divers, and we can't get boats close to it," Baird said.
Two Neosho residents drowned at the access in May 2015, and a third nearly drowned two days later, after three months of above-average rainfall.
In 2010, two canoeists who lost a paddle near the dam and were trying to recover it were swept over the low-head dam. An 18-year-old Diamond man died of hypothermia, a 19-year-old, also of Diamond, was rescued.
Solution in progress
A solution for the dam's drowning hazard is in the works, however.
The plan has been in development since 2019, and the Neosho City Council during its most recent meeting gave initial approval to selecting an engineer for designing the solution, using money from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant. A timetable for construction will be developed over the next few months.
The project calls for creating a rock ramp on the downstream side of the dam. The ramp would fill in the drop that causes the vortex and create a rocky rapids area that extends for about 220 feet.
Filling in the dam's spillway is also favored by conservation officials, who say that species of fish would once again be able to travel up and downstream.
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