Search focuses on river as hunt for missing Sask. boy continues

As the hunt for Frank Young entered its sixteenth day, the search for the boy focused on the river that runs through the community where he went missing.

"Given the ice on the Carrot River has now broken up where we will focus on the water or the next few days," RCMP Insp. Murray Chamberlin said during a virtual news conference on Wednesday.

"The Saskatchewan RCMP will be using boats and other methods to search the Carrot River for any sign of Frank," Chamberlin said.

Young, 5, was reported missing on April 19. He was playing in the front yard of his home on Red Earth Cree Nation. He was wearing Paw Patrol boots, blue pyjamas with green dinosaurs and a navy blue windbreaker.

Young was last seen around noon that day, although he may have been spotted at a local playground around 2:30 p.m., according to police.

Abduction is not suspected and his disappearance does not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.

Ground searches have also continued in the community, according to Chamberlin. A 92-square-kilometre area has been covered in the search, he said.

"When I was there yesterday, there (were) ground searchers from Red Earth and the surrounding communities. There was a number of provincial and RCMP resources searching as well," Chamberlain said.

"So searchers from a number of different areas continue to support and actively search for Frank."

Chamberlin said RCMP is using tools — such as GPS tracking which helps chart where teams have already searched — to make informed decisions about where to look for the boy.

Young's family began looking for the boy almost immediately after he was discovered missing, with the search quickly intensifying.

A winter weather system moved through the province that evening, bringing snow, wind and frigid temperatures.

In the days that followed, searches were conducted by ground, air and boat. An RCMP dive team was also brought in to assist.

Young was staying in the community with his aunt and uncle. His parents live in Shoal Lake Cree Nation, located nearby. 

'PLEASE GO AND HELP': VOLUNTEER 

Chasity Delorme heard the call from Red Earth Chief Fabian Head for any and all volunteers to assist in the search for Young.

On Friday, Head called for any and all volunteers who issued a call for volunteers to help relieve weary search crews.

“We ask anybody, any volunteers that want to come to Red Earth, to contact our emergency response coordinator," Head said.

Delorme gathered a team of eight members of the Cowessess First Nation and four members of Piapot First Nation — communities more than 450 kilometres south of Red Earth — and made the trip to lend assistance for three days.

While they were quickly assigned roles, Delorme says she was shocked by the response from the community.

“The community was more worried about us, whether we had accommodations, somewhere to stay and food to eat,” said Delorme. “That was so humbling.”

She said the support is much-needed as local community members have been searching non-stop for more than two weeks, but Delorme says it's important to Head's request to reach out to the community before arriving.

“Assess the situation first before approaching community members or the family,” Delorme said.

“Get a feel for the community, allow them to see your presence, before assuming you know what they need.”

She recommends any volunteers arrive well equipped to traverse the mud as the spring runoff continues to create soggy conditions. But she says the community still needs help.

“All children matter, especially in our communities,” said Delorme. “This Indigenous community needs the help, and if you’re compelled and have the capacity, please go and help them.”