An RCMP Underwater Recovery Team is now working near the Canfor Bridge on the Wapiti River, marking a shift in the search for a missing two-year-old boy. Almost all search and rescue members have been stood down, as the dive team members from Saskatchewan and Manitoba work to find the toddler.
“The URT members are searching all probable areas using sonar and physical dives along the river,” explains Corporal Shawn Graham of the Grande Prairie RCMP, who adds they’re working in roughly a two-kilometre stretch.
The child identified on social media as Myles was with his family by the river the evening of Friday, July 6th when he disappeared. Since then, an exhaustive search of the area by ground, water, and air has been done with no luck.
Corporal Graham says at this point, the focus is now on recovering the boy from beneath the water’s surface and along the edge of the river. Search efforts on the surrounding land have been scaled back completely.
“With these types of situations, they exhaust all probable areas, and beneath the water is one of the areas that, with the dive team, will allow for that area to be searched just to cover off and make sure,” Graham notes.
While bringing in the Underwater Recovery Team may have been discussed by emergency services a few days ago, Graham says they might not have been an appropriate resource at that time. Search and rescue boats and swiftwater rescue technicians were already on the scene.
“It’s not really deemed to be a recovery at that point because they’re trying to find this little boy as quickly as possible in the hopes that they’ll find the boy somewhere. The dive team is not considered immediately.”
The high water levels and fast-moving water can also pose a safety risk to the members.
At this point, RCMP are still asking the public to stay away from the search area. Graham says certain techniques need to be followed, and civilians on their own could get in the way.
“People have the best intentions to come down and help and do what they can given the situation, but what it does is sometimes it causes a bit of a distraction for the emergency crews that are down there and the search teams that are down there.”
Graham says the same goes for people wanting to search overnight, explaining someone could get hurt in the dark. He commends the community for coming together to support the family and search teams.