The body of five-year-old Robbie Reiner has been found more than four months after the boy went missing from his home in New Hamburg.
Waterloo Regional Police retrieved the body from the Nith River near Haysville, south of New Hamburg on Tuesday afternoon. Police say an off-duty police officer and a member of Reiner's family had been conducting their own search in the area and discovered the boy's body.
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Reiner's father, Bill Reiner, reported the boy missing on Dec. 26, after finding tiny footprints leading down to the river's edge.
A massive five-day rescue and recovery effort followed, including members of Waterloo Regional Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and firefighters from departments in Kitchener, Wilmot and Cambridge. An OPP dive team and helicopter were also part of the operation.
However, emergency crews decided to end the formal search after five days, saying they had exhausted all remaining options and that the weather had created very tough conditions to perform further searches.
'Difficult, difficult winter'
"The river has quite a few bends and flows in this area," said Staff Sgt. Shaena Morris on Tuesday. "It has been a difficult, difficult winter for everyone involved in this search and that put a hold on us being able to move forward with this."
Morris added the boy was identified by his clothes, which matched the description of what he wore when he was last seen.
Colleen Rooney lives just next to the bridge and says everyone in the New Hamburg area has been thinking of the boy since he went missing. Blue ribbons could have been tied to street signs and lamp posts all over the town's core in a tribute to him.
"All of the families are very saddened for the Reiner family," said Rooney. "We hope this will help them with their healing in the future."
Police say an autopsy will be performed Wednesday in Hamilton.