Search for missing New Hamburg boy now a recovery effort
Published Thursday, December 26, 2013 7:45PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 27, 2013 9:39PM EST
For a second night in a row, rescue teams in New Hamburg packed up their equipment and headed home after they were unable to find the body of a missing 5-year-old in the Nith River.
Robbie Reiner was reported missing around 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t long before search crews spotted footsteps leading towards the river.
Police say they followed his footprints to the river’s edge. There they discovered a hole in the ice.
Some of Robbie’s clothes were also found along the banks of the Nith River.
Police and firefighters began a search of the frigid waters with ATVs and air boats but they were unable to find Robbie or any evidence of his whereabouts.
The Grand River Conservation Authority says the temperature of the water is one degree above freezing.
Given the length of time the boy has been missing, the situation "isn't looking very promising," Insp. Mark Bullock of the Waterloo Regional Police Service said.
The search was called off around 10 p.m. Thursday night.
Police say the rescue effort is now a recovery mission.
“Given the length of time... obviously the situation isn’t looking very promising,” said Insp. Bullock.
Crews spent most of the day on Friday searching the icy river and its banks. Just before 6 p.m. the OPP dive team was pulled out of the water and the search was called off due to safety concerns.
They say they will be back out on the water Saturday morning.
Search teams have been consulting with the GRCA about water flows and the thickness of ice on the Nith River.
“The ice is very variable on the river. Certain areas are quite thin, especially near the shoreline, but there can be pockets of very thin ice where it’s only about an inch thick or less,” said Cam Linwood, a GRCA spokesperson.
Police are asking residents to stay away from the area.
"We appreciate that offer, but right now it is just too dangerous for members of the public to come down to the river to assist us," said Sgt. Dave Reibel.
While they are unable to help with the search, the community has come together to show the family that they are with them during this difficult time.
Bruce Stuart lives near the Reiners. “Robbie was always smiling every time I saw him he always had a smile on his face.”
Some have been stopping by Robbie’s home to drop off food and express their sympathy.
Roman Orlinksi shops at the Little Short Stop where Robbie’s mother works. He says support for the Reiner’s stretches beyond New Hamburg. “We’ll get him. It will take a while but we’ll get him.”
George Milligan drove in from Petersburg to see what he could do to help. “It’s a little boy and you gotta help.”
“The family is wanting for nothing except for their child,” said Wilmot Township Mayor Les Armstrong. “It’s very frustrating that he’s not back yet.”