Boy, 3, 'swept' from mother's grip after van enters Grand River: OPP
Codi Wilson And Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 21, 2018 9:07AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 21, 2018 11:14PM EST
Police say a three-year-old boy is missing in the Grand River west of Orangeville after fast-moving waters “swept” him away from his mother’s grip after their minivan entered the river early on Wednesday morning.
Ontario Provincial Police say the incident occurred at around 12:53 a.m. near the town of Grand Valley, located about 30 kilometres northwest of Orangeville.
Grand Valley Fire Chief Kevin McNeilly said a resident called 911 to report seeing “headlights” bobbing and pointing upward out of the Grand River.
Const. Paul Nancekivell said a vehicle went past a roadblock on a street adjacent to the water and was swept into the Grand River.
The female driver was able to get out of the car and was not injured, OPP say.
“She managed to free herself right away and then the van was swept away moments later,” Nancekivell said.
Police later said she was about to exit the van with her son when “the boy was swept away from her grip down river.”
She was taken to an Orangeville hospital and treated for symptoms of hypothermia.
Brad Patton, the fire chief for Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue, said crews, who were seen wading through the river early Wednesday morning, are contending with “fast moving water” and “large ice flows.”
“At that point it was sort of a risk – how much risk (are we going to take) given the fog and everything else,” McNeilly said of making their way to the van, which was found stuck in the middle of a fast-flowing river.
He said the Centre Wellington firefighters were able to run a cable from the riverbank to the vehicle early Wednesday morning to keep it from floating away, but were not able to dive to see inside the vehicle, which was mostly submerged.
High rain amounts over the last two days have pushed the Grand River to burst its banks in several areas, including Grand Valley and Brantford, where evacuations are underway.
The OPP’s underwater search team as well as other specialized police units searched for the boy until about 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The search is expected to continue on Thursday morning.
The van itself was raised from the riverbed on Wednesday afternoon. On shore, detectives are canvassing homeowners in the area. Police told CP24 the boy was nowhere to be found inside the vehicle.
McNeilly said visibility was extremely poor in the area overnight.
“You couldn’t see past the hood of your vehicle.”