The father of a five-year-old New Hamburg boy who police believe fell into the freezing waters of the Nith River on Boxing Day says the hardest part about the ordeal are the little reminders of "how precious" his child is.
Robbie Reiner's father, Bill Reiner, spoke to CBC News about the incident and what his family has been enduring since emergency crews started searching the river.
Reiner says he first realized something was wrong when he went back into his home Thursday afternoon after doing some chores outside. He added that he and his wife normally keep the house doors locked and their children inside for safety reasons.
“Generally if he wasn’t in the living room with us and my wife was upstairs, he would be upstairs with her,” said Reiner. “Everybody just came down and he wasn’t up there, so we went searching and we found where his little footprints went and he went right to the water.”
Robbie Reiner was reported missing around 4:40 p.m. on Dec. 26, which was followed by a massive five-day rescue and recovery effort that included 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.
On Monday, emergency crews decided to end the formal search for the child, saying they had exhausted all remaining options and that the weather had created difficult conditions to perform further searches.
“The part that I’m finding the hardest is talking to people that I haven’t talked to yet, and the little things like the commotion in the house and things like that,” said Reiner. “Things that make you remember how precious these little guys really are.”
Reiner says Robbie’s seven-year-old brother Alexander is not showing a lot of emotion over the situation. As for Reiner’s wife, he says she is devastated.
“She’s always been a stay-at-home mom. She spent the last five years with him so it’s hard for her,” said Reiner. "It's a part of both of us but it's a huge part of her and it's a void that's going to take a long time to heal..."
However, Reiner says despite all that has happened, he is grateful for the community support his family has received since his son vanished.
“The outpouring of resources for this, it’s made a really horrible situation a lot better because of the generosity of people in general,” said Reiner. “It’s just incredible.”