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Neighbors rally to support family of two girls killed in flash flood

(Pink and teal ribbons wrapped around branches to honor the memory of the sisters. Credit: Paul Nelson , KSL Newsradio)

WEST JORDAN – People in West Jordan are rallying around the family of two little girls who died in a flash flood in Goblin Valley State Park.  Some neighbors say the family was always a big support for them in their time of need, and they need to return the favor.

People living in the Wildflower subdivision of West Jordan were trying to handle the shock of hearing the body of the seven-year-old had been found Monday after floodwaters swept through one of the slot canyons in the Little Wildhorse Canyon area.  Neighbors like Jennifer Van Leuven could only hope the three-year-old sister survived, but that wasn’t to be.  Her body was Tuesday afternoon.

“We were really hoping for a miracle for the three-year-old.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that happened,” she says.

Van Leuven is no stranger to heartbreak from the death of a child.  Her son, Ethan, died when he was only four years old after battling leukemia.  When Ethan was diagnosed, people in the neighborhood gathered together to help him celebrate Halloween, Christmas and his birthday within the same week.

She says, “I know how much it meant to me to feel our neighborhood supporting us.  I hope that they feel that.”

(Neighbors posting messages of support in West Jordan. Credit: Paul Nelson)

On the driveway of the girls’ home, friends and ward members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote supportive messages in chalk, saying things like “Don’t forget to smile,” and, “You guys are amazing.”  Across the garage door, a large banner reads, “We love you.”  Neighbors also decided to plant flowers and clean up the yard before the family returned.

They also wrapped teal and pink ribbons around trees and fences.  Van Leuven says teal was the seven-year-old’s favorite color, while the younger sister loved pink.

“We wanted to intertwine the two girls together and let the parents know they’re still together, and we’re thinking about both girls,” according to Van Leuven.

She says people have nothing but positive memories of the girls, and that they were always able to make people happy with the big smiles on their faces.

“They would just light up a room every time they walk into it.  They’re not the ‘average’ little girls.  They were special,” she says.

Governor Gary Herbert also shared his condolences after the girls’ bodies were found.  His statement reads…

“Jeanette and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family who lost their two daughters in yesterday’s flash flood. Utah mourns with the family and prays that they may be comforted in this heartbreaking time. We appreciate the efforts of all who assisted in the search.”



UPDATE: Body of 3-year old flash flooding victim found near Goblin Valley

Bodies of young sisters recovered after slot canyon flash flood