OPP find clothing believed to belong to 3-year-old swept into Grand River

Ontario Provincial Police say they have found a T-shirt they believe belongs to the three-year-old boy who was swept from his mother's arms as their van sank in the flooded Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., early Wednesday morning.

Canine unit searching ground near where shirt was found, while police helicopter will continue until 6 p.m. ET

A helicopter searched a stretch of almost 15 kilometres Thursday, Feb. 22 as fire and police crews looked for for the body of three-year-old Kaden Young. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Ontario Provincial Police say they have found a T-shirt they believe belongs to the three-year-old boy who was swept from his mother's arms as their van sank in the flooded Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., early Wednesday morning.

OPP Const. Paul Nancekivell said a shirt police believe belongs to Kaden Young was found Thursday afternoon in the water not far from where the van he was in with his mother was recovered.

Nancekivell said police don't know if the child was wearing the shirt. He said it's possible it was just in the van, as the vehicle's door was open when they found it in the river. Police also found a booster seat. 

​Fire and police rescue crews have been searching for the three-year-old since Wednesday morning. As of Thursday, the search for the boy is being considered a recovery mission.

"Being more than 24 hours, very doubtful he could have survived," Nancekivell said Thursday.

Police said the search will continue until 6 p.m. ET, as it did Wednesday, before it gets too dark to operate the helicopter. 

Kaden Young, 3, has been missing since he was swept away in the flooded Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., early Wednesday morning. (Submitted by the Young family)

The OPP has two canine units searching the ground where the shirt was found, while the OPP's helicopter continues to search in the air.

The helicopter search began at Belwood Lake, near Fergus, and has been moving north toward Grand Valley, near where the boy was swept into the Grand River.

Police said the river is moving very fast, which is why they started their search nearly 15 kilometres away from where the boy was last seen.

It is also possible the boy passed through the Grand River Shand Dam in Belwood, which would vastly widen the search area, said police.

Police said the boy's mother was driving on 10th Line in the Township of Amaranth when she went past a road closure sign. It was foggy at the time, but they said she knew the sign was there. 

Police said they are not sure why the woman decided to go around the barrier, and noted they have yet to interview her as they continue to look for her son. 

The bend on 10th Line in Amaranth Township, where a van carrying a woman and her three-year-old son was swept into the Grand River early Wednesday morning. At the time, water was flooded over the road. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The van she was driving was swept into the Grand River just before 1 a.m.  ET on Wednesday.

According to police, the van travelled two kilometres down the river before getting stuck in a rough patch.

The mother got out of the van carrying her son, but "unfortunately, the three-year-old son was swept away in the water downstream," Nancekivell said.

The mother was rescued from the river by the Grand Valley Fire Department and taken to an area hospital with hypothermia Wednesday. She has since been released.

OPP divers went into the water Wednesday and looked inside the van, but the boy was not found. The van has since been pulled out of the water.

Police said they have taken the van to be inspected to ensure there are no defects that could have caused the van to veer into the river.

Thursday morning, a small memorial had been set up on the bank of the river where the boy disappeared, with a candle, flowers and notes that read "RIP Baby Boy."

A small memorial for the three-year-old boy has been started on the river bank near where he disappeared after his mother lost her grip on him. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The dive team did not return Thursday, but emergency officers have been searching the banks of the river while the helicopter searches from above.

The Grand River Conservation Authority said river flows have peaked in the Grand Valley area and are starting to recede, but will remain high for the rest of the week.

The river is also being monitored for the presence of ice, which could jam up and cause new flooding.