Girl Swept into Sea by Hurricane Bill Waves Dies, Maine Officials Say

7-year-old was one of three swept out to sea, and nine others fell in.

August 23, 2009, 2:08 PM

Aug. 23, 2009— -- A 7-year-old girl swept out to sea today in Maine's Acadia National Park by a rogue wave blamed on Hurricane Bill has died, the Coast Guard and Maine officials said.

Steve McCausland of the Maine Public Safety Department told The Associated Press that the girl's name wasn't being released but that she was from New York.

She was one of three people rescued from the chilly, choppy waters after the wave struck. The other two were a man and a 12-year-old girl who were hospitalized.

In all, a dozen people fell into the sea, and though only the three had to be rescued, nine people had to be hospitalized.

The girl was unresponsive when she was found after a search by the Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol, the Coast Guard said.

She was passed along to emergency responders, Coast Guard Petty Officer Shane Coxon told ABC News Radio. He added that other victims included an adult male with a heart problem and an adult female with a broken leg.

"To the best of our knowledge, we know that waves came over the rocks, swept them off shore," Coxon said.

The accident occurred at Thunder Hole about five miles South of Bar Harbor, Maine, in Acadia National Park, and resulted in an extensive rescue mission.

"Coast Guard Station Southwest Harbor launched a 47-foot motor lifeboat, and the crew pulled two people out of the water around 1:05 p.m.," the Coast Guard said in a statement as the search was ongoing. "A third person was later located and pulled from the water by the lifeboat crew.

"Additionally, the Coast Guard has a Falcon jet and Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod on scene," the statement said.

Though classified as a Category 1 storm since Saturday, Bill's turbulent conditions also resulted in the death of a 54-year-old swimmer Saturday in Florida, according to the Associated Press.

Visit ABC News' special section on Hurricane Season 2009.

A tropical storm warning along the Massachusetts coast was lifted this morning as the storm blew by the state's coast, headed directly for eastern Nova Scotia.

As of 5 p.m., the center of the storm was about 385 miles west-southwest of Newfoundland's Cape Race, according to an update from the National Hurricane Center. The update said Bill's center is expected to pass near or over southeastern Newfoundland tonight or early Monday morning.

Hurricane Bill has weakened considerably as it has traveled north.

In Chatham, Mass., this morning, all that was left were remnants of Bill, evident in wind, big waves and rip tides. The storm passed quickly off the shore of Cape Cod in Sunday's early morning hours.

"I'm a little surprised it didn't intensify a little more than what it did," said AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi. "But what's happened is, all that power, instead of being concentrated in a small area at the center, is spread out over a larger area."

President Obama and his family delayed their arrival today on the Massachusett's island of Martha's Vineyard to wait out the storm.

Waves along that coast were formidable.

"They were pretty incredible," said Cape Cod vacationer George Zawg. "They were over 6-feet tall. We had a couple come over, wash our furniture away a bit."

Bill Weakens But Still Carries Strong Winds

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the hurricane carried 75 mph winds.

Hurricane Bill started the weekend as a Category 3 storm, but was downgraded Saturday morning to a Category 2, and further downgraded that afternoon to a Category 1.

Still, it brought risky conditions to the shore.

Rip tides and high waves prompted officials to close several beaches Saturday in New Jersey and New York, and all of the beaches on Nantucket were closed. Where beaches remained open Saturday, people were being cautioned to stay out of the water.

Bill Karatz, head lifeguard in Belmar, N.J., said conditions were "very treacherous."

"We're just letting [beachgoers] just get their feet wet," he said. "And [conditions are] gonna get worse."

Hurricane Bill lashed Bermuda Friday night with high winds and caused some heavy damage.

But the island avoided a direct hit, and Bermuda's hurricane watch and subsequent tropical storm warnings were discontinued Saturday.

After earning its name Aug. 15 when it became a tropical storm, Hurricane Bill became the first hurricane of the Atlantic storm season by last Monday morning. The hurricane strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane by Wednesday, with sustained winds up to 135 miles per hour. It then lost strength throughout the week.

ABC News' Erin K. Donovan, Stephanie Sy, Marysol Castro, Jeffrey Kofman, Gerard McNiff, Jan Simmonds, Sharyn Alfonsi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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