MONTCLAIR, Va. (WUSA9) --Amother and her young daughter drowned in Lake Montclair on Thursday and police say a family member may have seen them drown. Police have identified the mother and daughter as 40-year-old Grace Darlene Shields and 6-year-old Raina Alexandra Shields.
Authorities saythey do not know theexact timethe mother and 6-year-old daughter drowned.
We are told the mother and her two daughters, ages 6 and 9, lived in a house that bordered the lake and had a small dock. Neighbors say the girls' parents were divorced and that the mother moved into the house in May. They also say she was a reservist. The father, who is in the military and stationed overseas, is on his way back to the U.S., say authorities.
The nine-year-old girl has a severe intellectual disability, we are told. We also understand she may have seen what happened but was not able to get help. A neighbor saw the 9-year-old daughter on thedockby herself on Thursday night.
"We heard the little girl out on the dock, you know. She talks to herself... We were sitting on the deck. Our other neighbor four doors down came running by our sidewalk, saying 'she's on the dock by herself.' I ran in the house, grabbed my shoes and grabbed her because I was afraid she'd fall," said neighbor Kathy Tkac.
The neighbors saw shoes on the deck but assumed the mom was swimming or had taken a boat ride. They took the 9-year-old daughter home and waited for her mother to show up. At approximately 11 p.m. Thursday, they decided to call the police.
Officers received a call for a missing persons report at about 11:13 p.m. Thursday on the 15500 block of Royal Crescent Court, say Prince William County Police. The neighbors tell us that they had no idea the mother may have drowned because the 9-year-old girl could not communicate with them.
"I think it was just a horrible accident," neighbor Pat Hall told us. "I think the little girl slipped off and mom went after her."
After police spent hours searching for the mother and daughter,a scuba team was called out to searchthe lakeat first light,around 6 a.m. Friday.The bodies of the mother and daughterwere discovered close to a dock near the home.
The 9-year old girlwas placed into the care of Child Protective Services until a family member could assume care, say police.
The investigation is ongoing.