Girl's body recovered from Amite River

Staff reports
Valarie Hodges

Valarie Hodges was with her father, Michael Hodges, and a younger sibling when the accident occurred, Sheriff Jeff Wiley said.

Michael Hodges told Ascension deputies that while he was docked near his home, located at 18463 Amite Acres Road in Prairieville, his daughter got into the water, held on to the back of the boat, and reached underwater to put a plug in the boat, Wiley said.

Valerie Hodges then “pushed off” of the back of the boat and began swimming away from the boat, her father told authorities.

Michael Hodges said he then started putting a life jacket on the younger child and when he looked back, his daughter was missing.

Hodges told deputies he then yelled to his wife and others who were on shore to call 911, and that he then dove into the water to try to find Valarie.

His attempts were unsuccessful, Wiley said.

A search for Valarie Hodges was conducted by Sheriff’s deputies, Wildlife and Fishery Department agents, and fire department personnel. Her body was recovered at 9:37 p.m., the sheriff said.

An autopsy was ordered by the Coroner’s Office, Wiley said.

Other agencies responding to the incident were Galvez-Lake Fire Department, St. Amant Fire Department, 7th District Fire Department and the Gonzales Fire Department Dive Team.

The apparent drowning is the second in the area within a week.

Jarran Keller, a 19-year-old graduating senior from St. Amant High School, drowned last Wednesday while swimming near the Diversion Canal weir located east of east of Hwy. 22.

Valarie Hodges