UPDATE: 9-year-old girl who drowned at Lake Perris last seen playing in area off-limits to swimmers

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 30, With additional details and information

MORENO VALLEY: A 9-year-old girl, last seen swimming in a part of Lake Perris State Recreation Area that is off-limits to swimmers and meant only for boaters, died over the busy Memorial Day 3-day weekend.

Despite a frantic, nearly hour-long search and subsequent life-saving efforts, the victim succumbed to her injuries after being rushed to a nearby trauma center. The deadly incident happened early Monday evening, May, 28.


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Alissa Montgomery, 9, drowned at Lake Perris Monday evening, during the first holiday of the lake’s boating season.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials later identified Alissa Anae Montgomery, from Perris, as the victim who died after being pulled from the lake. She was pronounced deceased about an hour and a half after she was first reported missing and coroner officials listed her time of death as 6:28 p.m.

Officials first received reports of the missing child just after 5 p.m., Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire spokesperson Jody Hagemann explained in an incident report. Witnesses  reported seeing Montgomery swimming in the lake’s “Power Boat Cove” near Lot 11. The cove, which is off-limits to all swimmers and is only authorized for boat use, is along the lake’s northeast shore and south of the park’s Moreno entrance.

Park rangers, life guards, Riverside County sheriff’s deputies, and other rescuers sprang into action and began an immediate, intensive search of the lake, surrounding campgrounds, and entire park.

Officials were seen searching the lake’s coves and shoreline from boats, jet skis, and from in the water. Search efforts were aided by ten lifeguards, two scuba divers, about a half-dozen firefighters, and other emergency first responders.

Witnesses at the park, which was filled to capacity – with every overnight campsite sold out for the first holiday weekend of the lake’s boating season, later reported seeing rangers combing every inch of shoreline, going from campsite to campsite, and questioning boaters, swimmers, and campers for any information about the missing girl.

Rescuers eventually found the victim’s lifeless body in about 10 to 15 feet of water, according to Hagemann. Medical personnel immediately began resuscitation efforts along the shore, before rushing the victim to Riverside University Health System Medical Center in Moreno Valley, less than four miles away.

The victim was last seen swimming in “Power Boat Cove,” which is off-limits for swimmers and restricted to boat use only.

Despite life-saving efforts the victim succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased by hospital staff.

Going into the first holiday of the lake’s boating season, State Parks’ officials were expecting much heavier than normal attendance.

Officials explained that with the rising of the lake’s water elevation and the lake’s water levels nearing full-capacity, officials decided this year to allow more than double the amount of boaters allowed in recent years.

According to the park’s website, the number of allowed boats per day rose from 200 to 450 boats.

Additionally, park officials doubled the amount of boats allowed within Power Boat Cove, where Montgomery was last seen playing and swimming.

Family members, mourning the loss of the girl they called their “angel,” later explained the victim “was a loving child, with a life filled of joy and happiness.”

“Alissa loved to dance and spend time with her sisters and family,” Kay Casey explained on a GoFundMe page established to help offset funeral and other expenses for the young victim. “She leaves behind so many loving family members who cherished and will always remember her.”


Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.