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Published: Monday, 4/14/2008

Mother spurns rescuers, drowns with 2 kids in Vermont

Searchers use poles to look under rocks as they comb the Wardsboro Brook in Wardsboro, Vt., yesterday for Grace Waring, 2 1/2. Searchers use poles to look under rocks as they comb the Wardsboro Brook in Wardsboro, Vt., yesterday for Grace Waring, 2 1/2.

WARDSBORO, Vt. - A woman reported missing with her two daughters waded into a brook carrying one of them and eluded a rescue attempt before mother and children were swept downstream to their deaths, police said.

Searchers found the bodies of Nicole Waring and her 6-year-old daughter, Dakota, downstream in Wardsboro Brook Saturday. Yesterday they found the body of her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Grace, downstream.

"For whatever reason, it was a deliberate action," said Vermont State Police Capt. David Covell, who stopped short of calling the incident a suicide.

Ms. Waring, 40, was reported missing early Saturday after she disappeared from her parents' Wardsboro house with the two girls, state police said.

As troopers began to prepare a search party, State Police Sgt. Robert McCarthy saw Ms. Waring and a child at the brook's edge, about 100 yards from the home, Captain Covell said.

The brook was swollen with rain and snowmelt and had a swift current. The water was about 3 feet deep yesterday and deeper Saturday.

Sergeant McCarthy tried to talk to Ms. Waring, but she ignored him and walked into the water holding the child, police said. She was standing near a rock in turbulent, waist-deep water when Sergeant McCarthy reached for her.

She pushed off the rock, plunging into the brook with her daughter Dakota in her arms before being swept away, Captain Covell said. "The sergeant tried to communicate with her. She didn't respond at all."

Preliminary autopsy findings on Ms. Waring and the 6-year-old suggested they drowned, Captain Covell said.

Ms. Waring had been despondent, but police would not say why. "I don't know particularly what issues were upsetting her, but she had been exhibiting some unusual behavior the day prior to and during the time Sergeant McCarthy located her," Captain Covell said.

Ms. Waring's husband, Michael Waring, had been in Massachusetts, the captain said.

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