Aaleya Carter was out celebrating her birthday with her mother and siblings before tragedy struck in St. Louis County

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Aaleya Carter
Aaleya Carter
| Credit: Facebook

A 12-year-old girl on her way home from celebrating her birthday with her family was killed after floodwaters swept her away and into a storm drain in Missouri.

Aaleya Carter was in a vehicle with three others on Saturday in St. Louis County when storms caused by flash flooding flooded I-70 as they drove, according to an incident report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP).

Cpl. Juston Wheetley of the MSHP told Fox affiliate KTVI that the car attempted a U-turn to avoid the flooded roadway, but was swept away in the process off of the roadway and into a concrete drain opening.

Wheetley said that the driver and two other children were able to safely exit the car, but when Aaleya did, she was caught in the current and swept into the drain, CBS affiliate KMOV reported. She was later found dead in Coldwater Creek.

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"In my knowledge and years of experience, I've never seen a situation unfold this way," Wheetley told the outlet. "It's just a tragedy that a child has lost their life as a result."

Aaleya's grandmother Tanya Carter told KTVI that the child had turned 12 on Wednesday, and was celebrating on Saturday with her mother, brother and sister.

"They had just left the movies and the water picked up the car and pushed it to the side to where it was hard for them to get out, and she didn't know there was a drain," Carter said. "She went up under the drain."

The girl's family returned to the scene where her body was found on Sunday to pay tribute to her with the release of silver and pink balloons, her favorite colors, according to KMOV.

"I don't even know. I'm lost. I don't know what to say," her mother Bridgette Carter told the outlet.

Added aunt Tracey Dean: "She loved her momma beyond measures. So it's going to be hard. It's hard not only for her but her siblings and her family. So we just want everybody to pray."

Wheetley said that according to witnesses, floodwaters on the interstate Saturday were as high as 2 feet, according to KTVI.

Aaleya's family has since arranged a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.