5 Victims of Bucks County Flooding Identified as Search for 2 Children Continues

East Coast Weather

A roadblock is seen as crews search for a a pair of missing children swept away after weekend rains, Monday, July 17, 2023, in Washington Crossing, in Upper Makefield Township, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

By Patrick Berkery

July 18, 2023

Authorities in Upper Makefield Township described the search for Matilda Sheils, 2, and her 9-month-old brother Conrad as a “massive undertaking.” Their mother was among five people who drowned in Saturday’s flash flooding.

Search operations continued in Bucks County Tuesday, with dozens of people, drones, and cadaver dogs looking for two missing children whose family’s car was swept away in flash flooding Saturday. 

Authorities in Upper Makefield Township described the search for missing Matilda Sheils, 2, and her 9-month-old brother Conrad Sheils as a “massive undertaking” along a creek that drains into the Delaware River. The children are members of a Charleston, South Carolina, family that was visiting relatives and friends when they got caught in the flash flood.

The children’s father, Jim Sheils, grabbed their 4-year-old son, while the children’s mother, Katie Seley, and a grandmother grabbed the other children, said Upper Makefield Township Fire Chief Tim Brewer. Sheils and his son made it to safety, but Seley and the grandmother were swept away.

The grandmother survived, but Seley, 32, was among five killed by the floods.

“A wall of water came to them; they did not go into the water,” Brewer said of the Sheils family.

Scott Ellis, an uncle to the missing children, described the family as “utterly devastated.”

Monsignor Michael Picard of St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church, where family members are parishioners, said he spoke with the grandparents Sunday.

“No matter how long I’ve been doing this — over and over and over, many, many years — you find yourself still helpless and without words to make people feel more comfortable,” Picard said. “And so you just simply pray with them for a few minutes.”

The flash floods in Bucks County also claimed the lives of Enzo Depiero, 78, and Linda Depiero, 74, of Newtown; Yuko Love, 64, of Newtown; and Susan Barnhart, 53, of Titusville, New Jersey, Bucks County Coroner Meredith Buck said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up on behalf of the Shelis family.

A prayer vigil for the victims will be held at the Crossing in Washington Crossing Thursday at 7 p.m.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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