By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
NEW YORK, Aug. 24 -- Huge waves churned up by the remnants of Hurricane Bill turned deadly for a New York family vacationing on the Maine coast on Sunday, when a 7-year-old girl was swept out to sea by a 20-foot wave and drowned. Her father was hospitalized in intensive care Monday after being caught by the water.
Hundreds had gathered Sunday in Acadia National Park to watch the huge waves and swells as the hurricane headed out to the Atlantic Ocean. Witnesses told Maine park officials that some people were walking away from the shore, up the path to the main road, when a giant wave washed over them, dragging seven people into the water and smashing others to the ground.
The child who died was identified as Clio Dahyun Axilrod, who was adopted from China and about to enter second grade. Her father, Peter J. Axilrod, 55, is the managing director of Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., a securities clearing organization. The Coast Guard rescued him from the choppy water after about an hour.
Sandra Kuhach, 51, Clio's mother and Axilrod's wife, also was hospitalized at the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor after being slammed to the ground and seriously injured by the wave. She was not swept to sea.
Of the seven pulled to sea, four managed to swim back to safety. Rescuers also saved a 12-year-old girl, identified as Simone Pelletier of Maine. She was hospitalized, but her injuries were described as not life-threatening.
After saving her father, Coast Guard rescuers searched for Clio for three more hours before they found her body floating about a half-mile away.
That portion of the Maine coast is a popular viewing area. Thunder Hole is a small cave that funnels incoming waves into a spectacular waterspout, spraying many feet into the air.
When Hurricane Bill headed up the Atlantic coastline, officers in Acadia National Park closed some of the small paths to the viewing areas, out of concern for safety, but some paths remained open.