Volunteers travel from across Ontario to search for toddler swept away by river

Volunteers travel from across Ontario to search for toddler swept away by river

Nearly 11 days after a three-year-old boy was swept away by a flooded river near the town of Grand Valley in southwestern Ontario, hundreds of volunteers from across the province are continuing to search for him.

“We’ve met people from Kitchener, we’ve met people from Toronto, I met a lady from Muskoka,” Bob Dougald, who travelled from nearby Orangeville to provide food for the volunteers, told CTV Kitchener.

“It’s just people coming from everywhere to do a little bit. If everybody just does a little, we can help find this boy.”

Kaden Young went missing in the early hours of Feb. 21 after the minivan he was travelling in with his mother was swept into the flooded Grand River. While the woman managed to escape, the child hasn’t been seen since.

Police have said that they do not expect to find the boy alive. Still, the small army of volunteers is refusing to give up.

“I have two children at home – two small children,” volunteer Christine Currie said. “I couldn’t imagine what they’re going through and they just need closure.”

On Saturday, volunteers searched a nearly 20-kilometre stretch of the river.

“We’re kind of narrowing it down,” Ontario Provincial Police Const. Paul Nancekivell said. “But again, until we have something more definite and more conclusive, the whole area is still wide open.”

“Look up, look down, look under stuff,” Trudy Dixon of Orangeville added as she searched along the river’s banks. “If you find anything significant, you don’t touch it.”

In the hopes of preventing a future tragedy, an online petition was created Saturday urging the tiny town of Amaranth to install a guardrail along the stretch of the river where the child went missing.

“If the community feels that this is a place where there should be a guardrail, and they’re going to feel safer because of it, I’ll be fully in support of it,” Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver said on Saturday.

“This road floods here almost twice a year and it’s just dangerous,” volunteer Margaret Vandenhoek of neighbouring Waldemar, Ont. said. “It’s very dark at night, so a guardrail could hopefully prevent further accidents.”

With a report from CTV Kitchener’s Heather Senoran