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Girl, 12, who died off Fort Erie believed to have suffered medical event

A 12-year-old Elmwood Franklin School student died Saturday after a swimming accident near Fort Erie, Ont., according to her family.

Catherine Winfield Butsch, 12, of Buffalo, known as “Caty,” was described by her family as "forever full of life."

Niagara Regional Police were called at 5:15 p.m. Friday to Kam Road near Crescent Beach to assist paramedics after a girl was found unresponsive in Lake Erie. Extensive efforts were made at the scene to resuscitate the girl by bystanders, police and firefighters, police said.

Paramedics transported her to a hospital in Niagara Falls, Ont., then a hospital in Buffalo, where she died, a Niagara Regional Police spokesman said. Investigators believe she suffered a medical event while in the water.

"Caty was a shining light in the Elmwood Franklin School community — a young lady whose kind heart, enthusiasm for learning, competitive spirit and zest for life made her the embodiment of all we hold dear at our school," said Andrew Deyell, head of the school. "She loved EFS and we loved Caty. And we will miss her more than any words could possibly explain."

In the published announcement of her death, her family described Caty as "always happy and enthusiastic about anything that she tackled, from crafts to knitting to lacrosse to basketball to thumb wrestling. She was forever loving and caring, never saying a bad word about anyone.

"Her impish smile, sparkling eyes and intrepid spirit were an inspiration to all who knew her. She was always upbeat and at-the-ready for a new adventure. She ran toward life with the speed of a gazelle never looking back. She lived her short life to the fullest and will always be remembered for the love and joy that she gave to others."

Caty was the daughter of Molly and John Butsch, and the sister of Caroline, 14, and Anna, 10. She also is survived by her grandparents, Lucy and John Butsch and Pam and Mark Magnotto; several aunts and uncles; and eight cousins.

Her family said she enjoyed the company of Bizzie, "her loyal black lab."

"Our condolences and thoughts go out to the entire Butsch family during this unimaginably difficult time," Deyell said.

Services are private, with a celebration of Caty’s life planned for friends at a later date. The family has established a fund in Caty's name at the Elmwood Franklin School. Donations may also be made to the Poor Clares Monastery, 3501 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, Ohio, 44111.

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