Robot deployed to help find missing boy at Fernhook Falls in north Walpole
The desperate search for a missing boy in the Great Southern Region has entered its fifth day, with state-of-the-art technology being used to help find the eight-year-old.
It is believed the boy, who has been missing since Sunday morning, may have drowned in the fast running Deep River waters near his family’s Fernhook Falls camp site north of Walpole.
Police and SES volunteers have been frantically searching for the boy “leaving no stone unturned”.
But the rescue mission turned into a recovery mission yesterday after hopes of finding the boy alive faded.
Police divers are back at the scene this morning but it is too dangerous for them to enter some of the fast-moving rapids.
A specialist robot camera has been brought in to help in the search.
The robot will be deployed into the murky waters to hopefully find the boy’s body.
Great Southern District Supt Kim Travers said the boy — whose identification has been withheld due to family wishes — was a “very good swimmer” and had “good bush skills”.
Supt Travers said the search was launched after the brother of the missing boy had heard him cry out for help while they were kayaking on the river.
It was the family’s second day of their camping trip and the pair had spent the morning kayaking in Rouse Pool before returning to the camp site.
“He (the eight-year-old boy) started talking to his brother about how good it would be to kayak across ‘the chute’, which is a short, sharp rapid,” Supt Travers said.
“But his brother had advised him that it was too dangerous and he had taken that advice.”
It is believed the young boy then spotted a large pool of foam collecting at the bottom of the river and paddled his kayak through it.
“What appears to have happened — nobody actually saw this part of the incident — the brother had heard (the boy) cry out for help and immediately rushed down (to his aid),” Supt Travers said.
But when the 12-year-old got to the bottom of the track, he saw the little blue kayak wedged under a log, with his brother nowhere in sight.
Supt Travers said the 12-year-old rushed back to the camp site to alert his parents and by this time the kayak had dislodged itself and was found at the bottom of the rapids.
She said the boy’s father immediately jumped into the water to try find his son but all he located was his blue jumper wedged between rocks.
“We’re reasonably sure that at that point in time he entered the water in that area,” Supt Travers said.
“We don’t believe he has survived this.”
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