Tragedy In Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Beauty suddenly turned brutal on a rocky outcropping at one of the nation's most popular national parks as a huge, hurricane-generated wave sent spectators scattering and dragged several into the chilly Atlantic, killing a 7-year-old girl.

But the chief ranger at Acadia National Park said Monday that officials did all they could to caution throngs of visitors to keep back from huge waves that crashed spectacularly - and dangerously - against the rocky shore. Many didn't heed their warnings, and by Sunday afternoon the girl had been swept into the sea and died.

Two others were hospitalized after being pulled into the roiling ocean by the wave that crashed on the rocks about 150 yards from a popular attraction known as Thunder Hole, which sends plume-like sprays into the air even under normal conditions. A viewing platform there had already been closed by the park due to Sunday's danger.

The name of the 7-year-old victim and her father, who are from New York City, were not released as of Monday afternoon. The man and a 12-year-old girl from Maine remained hospitalized in Bangor's Eastern Maine Medical Center.

The wave swept over 20 people, 11 of whom were taken to the hospital, officials said.

Spectators anxious to take in the views of dramatic surf began filling up Acadia, about 50 miles east of Bangor, on Sunday morning, Chief Ranger Stuart West said. As the tide rose, generating even bigger waves, 10,000 people had parked along the roadway to view the waves spun off by Hurricane Bill, West said.

The park dispatched seven rangers to the area to warn spectators to keep away from the rocks, where 12- to 15-foot waves were breaking, said West.

"But some folks weren't grasping how fierce the ocean can be," said West. Three signs warning of "dangerous waves and rip currents" had also been placed on barricades to nearby parking areas, which had filled up.

Other rangers were posted at other potentially dangerous areas throughout the 36,000-acre park to keep visitors away from rocks and cliffs, said West. But he added, "You can't be everywhere."

A little after noon, a huge wave crashed into the shore, causing the three to be sucked out to sea. The Coast Guard responded shortly after a call from rangers and dispatched a boat and two aircraft.


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