Hannah Ross, whom family members said was autistic, had left her house upset about 6:40 p.m. Saturday. Buz Yarnell, a Fort Gordon public affairs spokesman, said when Ross was distressed, she had to touch water, which they believe led to her death.
The child and her family were new to the post, Yarnell said, having been at Fort Gordon about a week. He could not identify the child’s parents, but said they had come from California.
Ross had left her house without shoes Saturday, leading authorities to assume she had not gone far. When they had searched for almost an hour without finding her, Fort Gordon asked others for help.
Richmond and Columbia county sheriff’s K9 units and deputies searched the woods all night, Yarnell said. The Georgia State Patrol brought in a helicopter that did frequent fly-overs.
She was recovered by a dive team about 3:15 p.m. at the bottom of Soil Erosion Lake behind her home on Cypress Circle on base, he said.
Some Fort Gordon residents will be keeping their porch lights on tonight in her memory. The effort is called “Porch Lights for Hannah,” according to the Fort Gordon Spouse’s Facebook page. A vigil is also being planned for later this week.
Ross is the fourth recent drowning in the area, the third of a juvenile.
Daniel Stocker, 2, was discovered in a murky pool in the backyard of his home on the 3800 block of Creighton Place on March 21.
On April 8, Uriel Diaz Lazaro, 15, drowned while at West Dam Recreation Area in Columbia County with his cousin and a friend. On March 31, the body of Annette U. Maxwell, 66, of Blythe, was found floating in the Savannah River.
An investigation revealed Maxwell had previously threatened to drown herself in the river.