Angela Girton is honored one year after falling into the Wisconsin River

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GOTHAM, Wis. (WMTV) --- A local family aims to help others one year after going through tragedy. Now, lending life vests is just another step in the grieving process for them.

"We've had our ups and downs it's been really rough," Jennifer Christianson, Angela Girton's mother, says.

One year after losing her daughter, Christianson still struggles with reality.

"I still have issues where there's a little kid that kind of resembles her I'm still coming up with issues like that, but we feel like she should still be here," Christianson says.

But she says she has to stay strong for the rest of the family.

"Overall, we're doing as best as we can be," she says. "I'm staying strong for my 8-year-old little girl that I have, and we talk about Angela quite frequently which I think makes us a strong family as well."

Last April, 5-year-old Angela Girton fell into the Wisconsin River. Her body was discovered by search and rescue teams nearly two months later.

"I know that my situation was very unfortunate, but they didn't have life jackets," Christianson explains. "Had they had life jackets, it might have been a different turnout."

Sunday, in honor of Angela, the Department of Natural Resources and the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway have put up a station loaning life vests to river goers.

"There's always a chance that if they don't, there may be the same consequences unfortunately, but they're here for that purpose, so we hope that they get utilized," she says.

Hoping no other parent has to go through losing a child.

The DNR along with other local organizations have put up six life vest stations along the banks of the lower Wisconsin River.

Copyright 2016: WMTV
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UPDATED: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 --- 5:20 p.m.

It's been nearly a month, but searchers are still hoping to be able to give some closure to the family of 5-year-old Angela Girton. Despite working in a debris-filled river and a lack of local resources, emergency management coordinators are not giving up.

Richland County Emergency Manager Darin Gudgeon tells us, "This has probably been the most difficult circumstance that I've been involved in in my 18 plus years of public safety."

Whether with a formal search party or not, Richland County Emergency Manager Darin Gudgeon has been searching the Wisconsin River himself almost daily.

Gudgeon says, "It means more for the family for closure, but there is also a degree of closure that we want to give for the men and women and the response community that have been pouring hours and hours and hours and tremendous amounts of energy into locating her."

Dealing with weather and debris, it's made for a worst-case scenario.

Gudgeon explains, "The structures underneath, we've come across massive tractor tires, the trees, the boulders, the shoreline, the bank, the current, where she went in at is just a really bad spot."

It's been 29 days of searching.

Gudgeon says, "We're hoping that we're going to be able to find her and help her mom and her family find some closure, but the reality of it is she might not surface."

But Gudgeon isn't giving up. He's been coordinating with agencies across the state, even getting offers for help from Minnesota, adding the search isn't over.

Gudgeon explains, "At least not in the near future. We have opportunities and we've built relationships with different dive teams, different search and recovery dog teams throughout the state that are more willing as they have training events to come down here and do that."

Gudgeon says many of the searchers are volunteers who've used up all of their vacation time searching, so that makes planning future major search efforts even more difficult. He says he has been in contact with Angela's mom and grandfather and he can only describe them as grateful for the outpouring of support from those volunteers.

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UPDATED: Thursday, April 23, 2015 --- 11:34 a.m.

RICHLAND CENTER, Wi.--- The recovery operation resumed Thursday to locate 5-year-old Angela Girton.

Angela fell into the Wisconsin River on April 6. Her body has not been found at this time.

Management Director Darin Gudgeon stated that they are committed to expanding the search area to locate Angela.

The cadaver dog team KERT (K9 Emergency Response Team) and a local helicopter pilot offered their services to increase the search area from Gotham to Muscoda.

Officials said Bruce's Legacy divers will return on Friday to collect and analyze sonar images with the assistance of the Wisconsin DNR.
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UPDATED Tuesday, April 21, 2015--5:27 p.m.

RICHLAND CENTER, Wis:--Richland County Emergency Management says the recovery operations resumed today to locate 5-year-old Angela Girton. They say Bruce's Legacy divers were on site again Tuesday to further assist.

The divers returned to a specific location on the water where sonar imaging and multiple cadaver dog teams believed her body was located. The water level receded enough to improve visibility; however, her body was not found.

Authorities say Angela fell into the Wisconsin River on April 6, 2015.

Richland County Emergency Management says the river search operations were suspended last week due to high water. However, river bank searches have continued and cadaver dog teams from Wisconsin K9SOS Search and Rescue and K9 Emergency Team (KERT) aided in those efforts.

The following agencies have been involved in the recent efforts: Richland County Emergency Management, Lone Rock Fire and EMS Departments, Blue River Fire Department, Wisconsin DNR, Richland County Sheriff's Department and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

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UPDATED Monday, April 13, 2015---1:10 p.m.

RICHLAND CENTER, Wis:--Members of the search team along with the Wisconsin DNR Wardens continue the recovery operation for 5-year-old Angela Girton Monday.

Richland County Emergency Management says the recovery efforts have been scaled back due to zero visibility, high water and strong currents.

The Richland County Emergency Management says they will be working with the National Weather Service and Prairie du Sac dam to monitor the flow and depth of the river. They say once it comes down, they will re-deploy divers and reinstate search efforts; including the assistance of a cadaver dog teams.

They say the public is welcome to search the area from the Gotham boat landing to Boscobel. Due to the high water and fast current, they ask that those searching follow all necessary safety precautions.

If anyone discovers her body while searching, authorities say please mark the location with a flag or ribbon and call the Richland County Sheriff's Department at (608) 647-2106.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 9, 2015---1:10 p.m.

GOTHAM, Wis:---The recovery operation continues for 5-year-old Angela Girton who fell into the Wisconsin River Monday night.

Her body has not been found at this time.

The Richland County Emergency Management Director says the search team appreciates the outpouring of support.

They say direct support to the family or Bruce's Legacy can be done via the following websites listed on this page.

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UPDATED: Thursday, April 9, 2015 --- 8:54 a.m.

GOTHAM, Wis.--- The recovery operation continues for 5-year-old Angela Girton who fell into the Wisconsin River Monday night.

Authorities said the Madison Police Department cadaver dog team may have determined a possible location of her body.

Officials said a traveling dive crew known as 'Bruce's Legacy' from Black River Falls will use sonar equipment to assist in the recovery effort.

Her body has not been found at this time.

The Lone Rock Fire Department, Richland County Sheriff's Department, Richland County Emergency Management, Cazenovia Fire Department, and DNR Wardens continue to search by boat.
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UPDATED: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 ---4:10 p.m.

GOTHAM, Wis.--- Officials said the recovery operation continues for 5-year-old Angela Girton who fell into the Wisconsin River Monday night.

Authorities said her body has not been found at this time.

The MPD offered the assistance of a trained cadaver dog to aid the Lone Rock Fire Department and Richland County Emergency Management in their continued search, according to a release from the Richland County Emergency Management.
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UPDATED Wednesday, April 8, 2015---12:10 p.m.

GOTHAM, Wis.--Crews have resumed their search Wednesday on the Wisconsin River for a 5 year old girl who went missing Monday.

The Richland County Emergency Management Director says it started out as a search and rescue mission, but they are now calling it a recovery operation.

Currently, there are three boats out on the water.

The Richland County Emergency Management Director tells NBC15 that there is a strong current where Angela Girton, is believed to have fallen in.

Authorities say they know Angela went into the water. Her sibling and another child reached out and kind of made a chain and reached out with a stick to try to help her out, but that was unsuccessful.
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UPDATED: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 --- 7:13 p.m.

GOTHAM, Wis.--- Crews have suspended their search on the Wisconsin River for a 5-year-old who went missing from a boat launch in Gotham Monday.

Officials said they will resume the search Wednesday at 8 a.m.
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UPDATED: Tuesday, April 7, 2015---9:37 a.m.

GOTHAM, Wis--Richland County crews have resumed their search on the Wisconsin River for a 5-year-old who went missing from a boat launch in Gotham Monday.

The Richland County Emergency Management Director tells NBC15 that there are 30 crews on the scene, and that the search resumed at 6:30 Tuesday morning.

Emergency Management Director said the Wisconsin River is a difficult river to search because there's a lot of debris. The girl went in the river by a sandy area that has a sudden 10-12 foot drop.

Authorities tell NBC15 that Lone Rock Fire and EMS is currently being assisted by Spring Green Fire, Blue River Fire, Cazenovia Fire, the Richland County Sheriff's Department and Richland County Emergency Management. DNR Wardens are searching by both boat and plane, and the Baraboo Police Department is searching with a drone.

The Sauk County Dive Team and Iowa County Tech Rescue Team on their way to help out with the search.

Officials are asking people not to self deploy, as there are plenty of resources out on the water.

Authorities say around 6:15 Monday night a 4 year old girl fell into the north side of the Wisconsin River near the east side of the boat landing in Gotham.

The search for the child discontinued at 9:00 Monday night due to darkness and weather conditions.

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Posted: Monday, April 6, 2015 --- 8:36 p.m.

GOTHAM, Wis.--- Richland County crews have suspended a search for a young child who went missing from a boat launch in Gotham Monday.

Officials said crews searched the river for two hours in the rain, but it became too dark and too dangerous for the crews to continue.

Richland County Emergency Management officials said they are going to send crews out to resume the search Tuesday morning.