The Canadian Press
Hundreds of people spent their Easter long weekend searching for a missing boy from a small southern Ontario community who was swept away in the Grand River during a recent flood.
Searchers from several nearby communities have been congregating just outside Orangeville, Ont. every day for the last six weeks to walk alongside the river and search for the body of Kaden Young.
The three-year-old was in the family van in the early hours of Feb. 21 when the vehicle was swallowed up by the fast-moving river.
His mother managed to get the boy out of the van, but lost her grip in the strong current and he was swept downstream.
Volunteer leaders in the civilian search hoped the Easter weekend would serve as an opportunity to help the community find Kaden.
Richard Croft, a local tow-truck driver who is co-ordinating the search effort, said an average day could bring anywhere from 20-50 searchers, but around 200 people showed up on Good Friday alone.
Croft said about 100 people turned out to the search on Saturday–and he expected even more yesterday.
The increased numbers help, Croft said, especially at a time when the transitioning weather makes conditions difficult.
“It’s very tough out there no matter what,” said Croft. “But with the warmer weather, the ground is getting softer so it’s getting slippery.
“It’s a slow process because we have to make sure we’re safe ourselves,” he stressed.
Beyond the physical toll of searching week after week, Croft said the search also is taking an emotional toll on everyone involved.
“It’s tough, it’s very hard,” he admitted.
“We go out there with high spirits,” Croft noted. “We come back not so high because our goal has not been accomplished.
“We know we’re getting closer, we’re just not quite there yet, but we know we’ll get there.”
Meanwhile, the OPP said their own search operation is dependent on weather, and more resources will be available as conditions improve.
“We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature right now. We’re waiting for things to melt,” noted OPP Cst. Paul Nancekivell.
“When they do, we’re intending to bring our dive team back and our helicopter.”
A Facebook group with more than 17,000 members has been a space for Croft and the boy’s father, Cam Young, to provide updates on the search.
On Saturday, Young thanked volunteers for showing up on the long weekend to help in the search.
His post ended the same way all of his posts in the group do: “See you tomorrow.”