Police search for toddler missing near river in northwestern Alberta

Police are searching for a toddler who went missing near Wapiti River in the Municipal District of Greenview on Friday night.

The boy had been with his family near Wapiti River at Canfor Bridge

Emergency service personnel and a search and rescue team are looking for a toddler who went missing near the Wapiti River in the MD of Greenview on Friday night. (William Vavrek)

Police are searching for a toddler who went missing near the Wapiti River in the Municipal District of Greenview on Friday night. 

Grande Prairie RCMP said a two-year-old boy was with his family near Canfor Bridge, located approximately 470 kilometres north of Edmonton, when he disappeared.

Although the search was suspended overnight, officers returned to the river in the pouring rain Saturday morning with STARS air ambulance and the Grande Prairie Technical Search and Rescue team.

By 5 p.m. Saturday, the crews had covered eight kilometres of water and land downriver from the Canfor Bridge, Grande Prairie RCMP spokesperson Melanie McIntosh told CBC News.

"We've been searching all day," said McIntosh, who is part of the rescue effort. "It's been a bit rainy here and the terrain's rough."

The search included islands, as well as combing through trees and grass up to 100 metres from the shoreline on both sides of the river.

Crews will continue looking for the toddler until last light on Saturday, McIntosh said, with plans to return early Sunday morning.

The search for the missing toddler continued Saturday. (William Vavrek)

All available resources are deployed in the ongoing search, RCMP said. Officers are asking the general public to stay away from the area to allow crews to work.

Some people in Grande Prairie pooled resources Saturday to bring food and coffee to first responders working on and around the river. 

There is also an online fundraiser for the toddler's parents, as well as an informal campaign to place teddy bears in front yards to show support for the family.

"Just felt like I had to do something," Arlene De Heus, the woman who started the teddy bear campaign, wrote in a Facebook message to CBC News. "Might be small but it's all I could do."

Further updates will be provided when more information is available, RCMP said.

People in Grande Prairie and the surrounding communities placed teddy bears in their front yards in support of the missing toddler and his family. (Left to right: Ashley Frandsen, Arlene De Heus, Danielle Mildenberger)