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Family identifies missing girl in Rock River: “We’re just staying strong”

“We’re just staying strong as a community at this point,” Brenda Ward, cousin to the girl, tells NBC15 News. “It’s different when it’s a kid.”
9-year-old Madison Billups
9-year-old Madison Billups(Brenda Ward)
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 8:29 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The family of Madison Billups, the 9-year-old girl who disappeared into the waters of Rock River on Thursday, identified her and released a photo of her Friday.

Billups was playing in the river with her brother when the water’s current swept them away. A bystander jumped into the water and saved the boy, but Billups disappeared.

“We’re just staying strong as a community at this point,” Brenda Ward, cousin to the girl, tells NBC15 News. “It’s different when it’s a kid.”

A recovery effort is underway because of the length of time that has passed, Janesville Police Deputy Chief Terry Sheridan said.

“They’re grieving right now and they’re upset,” said Sheridan. “Our prayers go out to them, this is a tough one for them and the city.”

Janesville police said the section of the Rock River near Anglers Park does not particularly have many children who play in it , but people do frequent the area to fish and play in the river.

In the afternoon, recovery crews went into the water with poles. The Rock County Sheriff’s Office also called in K-9 officers and used drones to help in their search.

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