Fourth day of searching wraps up for toddler who was swept away in Grand River
Chris Fox and Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Saturday, February 24, 2018 11:18AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 24, 2018 11:33PM EST
Search crews are expected to return to the Grand River Sunday in an effort to find the body of a three-year-old boy who was swept away by fast-moving waters after the van he was travelling in plunged into the river.
The boy - identified by several sources as Kaden Young – was taken by a fast-moving current after his mother’s van plunged into the Grand River west of Orangeville in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Police have said that the boy’s mother initially managed to get out of the vehicle carrying him but lost her grip, at which point he was swept away by the current.
The woman was taken to hospital to be treated for hypothermia and was subsequently released.
“They are trying to stay strong. It is obviously a devastating thing to happen to them but they are out there actively engaged and doing their own search,” Const. Paul Nancekivell said of the boy’s family. “We are keeping them updated and are trying to comfort them as much as we can. I hope we can find this little boy today.”
A fourth day of searching wrapped up Saturday without luck. Police divers were out searching the river along with members of the Ontario Provincial Police canine unit, which helped to conduct a ground search along the shoreline.
Nancekivell said that authorities expect to find the boy somewhere between the initial crash site and Bellwood Lake, an area that spans roughly 13 kilometres.
“It is quite a lengthy area. The river makes several bends and twists as it approaches Bellwoood Lake and there are a lot of ice jams so it is presenting some challenges for us,” he said.
Police did find clothing belonging to the boy earlier this week but Nancekivell said it was not what the child was wearing at the time and was likely just swept out of the van by the current.
At one point Saturday, Nancekivell said that OPP had “exhausted” their resources and that they would not return to search Sunday because of expected freezing rain, though volunteers were expected to resume their search efforts.
However later Saturday night, Nancekivell said that OPP senior command had reversed the decision.
“That situation has changed now. Our senior command staff at the OPP in Orillia have changed their minds and decided to continue on with the search tomorrow,” Nancekivell said. “They’re going to have an OPP emergency response team there, they're going to have the dive team return to the scene as well. Also providing a helicopter is not occupied with another occurrence, it’s going to be there as well.”
Nancekivell said searchers will focus their efforts on ice flows and parts of the riverbanks overturned by the fast-moving ice.
“We’re pretty sure he’s not in any of the open water that we see, but he may be in these ice flows or underneath the banks on either side of the river,” he said.
As volunteers searched the area Saturday, makeshift tributes composed of flowers and stuffed animals started to form near the site where the vehicle plunged into the frigid waters.
A number of volunteers from the tight-knit community became emotional as they searched.
“It’s been difficult in that were frustrated,” Nancekivell said. “We want to find this child, we want to bring some closure to this tragedy for the family.
“We’re not giving up. We’re out there. Everybody in the community is banding together.”