Dad of Missing 6-Year-Old Girl Speaks Out After Authorities End Search Efforts: 'She's Gone'

Li’najah Brooker was swept away after falling into Chester Creek in Pennsylvania on March 22

<p>City of Chester, PA</p>  Li’najah Brooker

City of Chester, PA

Li’najah Brooker
  • Pennsylvania authorities announced Tuesday that they were ceasing search efforts for Li’najah Brooker, who fell into Chester Creek last week

  • Authorities said that she was swept away in Chester Creek on the early evening of March 22 amid heavy rain in the area

  • “She was a sweetheart,” said dad Montez Brooker

After authorities announced that they have ceased searching for Li’najah Brooker, the 6-year-old girl who fell into a Pennsylvania creek almost a week ago, her father remembered her as “his angel.”

“She was a sweetheart,” Montez Brooker said in an interview with NBC affiliate WCAU. Although the girl's dad told WCAU he feels his daughter is still out there, he recognizes that "she’s gone.”

Authorities said the 6-year-old girl was swept away in Chester Creek on the early evening of March 22 amid heavy rain in the area.

Related: Human Remains Found in Car Submerged in N.C. Creek Likely Linked to 1982 Cold Case, Police Say

Officials said that the girl was playing with her friends near the creek when she slipped and fell into the creek, ABC affiliate WPIV reported.

At a news conference over the weekend, Chester Fire Commissioner John-Paul Shirley said local emergency responders and the Coast Guard searched the creek with the assistance of drones and boats.

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“Having exhausted all available resources to locate Li’najah over the past three-and-a-half days, we are now ceasing search operations,” read a press statement issued by the City of Chester and previously shared with PEOPLE. “Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time.”

Related: 3-Year-Old Boy Dies After Getting Swept Away While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande with Family

In a statement Tuesday, Chester Mayor Stefan Roots expressed his gratitude to the various agencies involved in looking for the missing child for the last few days.

“Unfortunately, despite our collective efforts, we have been unable to locate the child,” Roots said. “It is with profound sadness that we acknowledge this outcome. Our hearts ache for the family as they navigate through unimaginable grief. To the family, please know that the entire community stands with you during this incredibly difficult time.”

Meanwhile, Christian Aid Ministries, an Ohio group that assists in finding the lost and missing, has joined in the search for the missing WPVI reported, spending Thursday examining the creek. They were expected to resume looking for the child on Friday.

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