Pearl Sittner was trapped in a 1998 Subaru Forester under 40 feet of icy water in Lucky Peak Reservoir for more than an hour Thursday night before a dive team was able to get her out. Team members tried to revive the girl but were unsuccessful.
The girls mother and step-father told investigators the adults and two children got out while the vehicle was perched 70 feet above the water but could only watch as the SUV fell to the water below and sank with the girl still inside.
Pearls 8-year-old sister was taken to a hospital by air ambulance after complaining of neck and back pain. Pearls mother, Tori Miller, and stepfather, David Persons, and their infant son avoided serious injury.
The death was the second drowning of a young child in the same area this week.
The autopsy report lists Pearls cause of death as a drowning; the investigation continues. Boise County sheriffs officials spent much of Thursday night and Friday trying to reconstruct the crash. No one saw it other than Persons, Miller and the children.
Excessive speed on steep Arrowrock Road was likely a factor in the crash, Boise County sheriffs Chief Deputy Dale Rogers said Friday.
The couple told investigators that Persons was driving the Forester southwest on Arrowrock Road toward Idaho 21 and had just passed Arrowrock Dam early Thursday evening when he lost control. The SUV went off the road and about 90 feet down an embankment before coming to a stop on the hillside about 70 feet above the waters of Lucky Peak Reservoir.
Persons told investigators he was able to get the 8-year-old girl out while Miller got the couples infant son out. Miller was trying to get Pearl when the SUV began rolling down the hill and into the water.
The couple went down to the water, they told deputies, but couldnt get to the SUV. They climbed back to the road and waved down a passing motorist.
That passerby drove the mile and a half to Macks Creek park and used an emergency phone to call 911 at 6:52 p.m. Deputies sent to the reservoir asked for help from the Boise Fire Dive Team around 7:23 p.m.
The dive team got in the water around 8 p.m. and found Pearl within about three minutes. They brought her to a boat, where they gave her CPR and took her to Macks Creek, Rogers said. The girl was pronounced dead before an air ambulance arrived, he said.
Rogers said he was not sure where the family was going at the time of the crash and declined to say whether Persons told investigators anything about how he lost control of the SUV. As a standard part of a crash investigation, a blood sample was taken from Persons. Rogers says there was no indication impairment was a factor.
Crews removed the SUV from the water Friday afternoon.
Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan said some dive team members were shaken by the incident. Fire officials brought in stress counselors Friday for team members who needed it.
Our team took it very hard, Doan said. You know how it is when its kids.
The more it piles on, the worse it gets, said Rogers, whose deputies had to investigate the death of 7-year-old Fred Hartpence, who drowned while he was in Arrowrock Reservoir with his family earlier this week.
Rogers says he is thinking about instituting a protocol for his Boise County deputies involved in investigations like this to meet with a counselor to make sure they are OK.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Orr