Crews shift search to surface to locate body of teen presumed drowned in Oldman River

News source from CTV News

Published Thursday, July 12, 2018 10:10AM MDT

Last Updated Thursday, July 12, 2018 11:03AM MDT

Emergency crews in Lethbridge have spent the last six days searching for a 14-year-old boy who was swept away by the current in the Oldman River and say they are now focusing their efforts on the surface and shoreline.

Police were called to the Alexander Wilderness Park at about 7:40 p.m. on July 6 after a youth was reported missing.

Investigators say the 14-year-old boy tried to cross the river with a friend and the friend’s grandmotherwhen he lost his footing and slipped beneath the surface.

The 59-year-old grandmother tried to pull the boy to safety and called 911 after her attempts to rescue him were unsuccessful.

A search was launched and the wilderness park was closed to visitors to allow crews to conduct a thorough search of the area.

Search crews have been scouring the banks of the river from the ground and air and divers searched the river bed using sonar but so far crews have not turned up any sign of the boy.

“This is a tragic situation and I want to assure the community we’re doing everything we can to find this boy and give his parents a sense of closure,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Stef of the Criminal Investigation Section in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

“This is obviously not the outcome we had hoped for thus far,” said Dana Terry, Deputy Chief for Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services in a statement released by the city. “Our crews have been working tirelessly to find this young man and help to bring closure to his family. At this point, we will be ceasing our dive efforts to transition into a surface recovery search.”

Officials say the search for the boy’s body will now transition from underwater to the surface and shoreline.

Lethbridge police say that the boy is presumed to have drowned and that there is nothing to suggest foul play was involved.

Police say an autopsy will be conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office once the body is recovered.

The boy’s family and witnesses are receiving assistance from the LPS Victim/Witness Services Unit.

The Alexander Wilderness Park will remain closed to the public until further notice.

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