Volunteers continue search for Kaden Young 1 week after he was swept away by Grand River

One week after he went missing, a group of volunteers continue their search for three-year-old Kaden Young along the Grand River. Police and conservation authority officials say it is possible the little boy's body is farther downstream than previously thought.

Police encouraging people to stay clear of riverbanks

Kaden Young, 3, has been missing since he was pulled from his mother's arms and swept into the Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., a week ago. (Submitted by the Young family)

Given the fast-moving current of Grand River during the flood last week, it's possible the body of three-year-old Kaden Young could be found farther south than the area currently being scoured by volunteers, police and conservation authority officials say.

One week ago, Kaden went missing in the Grand River in south-central Ontario. Just before 1 a.m. on Feb. 21, the van his mother was driving got caught in floodwaters over the road near their home in Waldemar, west of Orangeville. As Michelle Hanson tried to get her son out of the van, he was ripped from her arms by the force of the water.

Police initially said they thought there were grates on the dam at Belwood Lake, downstream on the Grand River, which would stop the body from going beyond that point, but Grand Valley Conservation Authority communications co-ordinator Cam Linwood said that is not the case.

"The openings in Belwood Lake, or Shand Dam specifically, are large enough to pass large volumes of water, obviously, and large debris as well," he said.

"With those gates open and passing some of the flows they were at the tailend of the weather event. Once we had stopped retaining that water, there is a possibility large debris could flow downstream."

Belwood Lake is still mostly covered in ice, which is expected to be the case until at least the end of March.

Yesterday, the Grand River Conservation Authority granted access to a boat launch at Belwood Lake for a small group of volunteers who requested to remove some of the ice in that area using construction equipment.

Dufferin OPP announced Monday it was scaling back its search for the boy's body.

Belwood Lake near Fergus is still largely covered in ice. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Still not safe to search along river

Const. Joshua Cunningham with Wellington County OPP, which neighbours Dufferin County where Kaden went missing, said they've been helping in the search efforts.

"We are aware there is a higher likelihood that we may be involved in the recovery end of things, just given we're downstream from them," he said.

"We're just sort of waiting to see how we can assist."

Cunningham said he's aware volunteers and a private search company have been searching the river between Grand Valley and Belwood Lake. He said he didn't want to encourage anyone to go out searching the Grand River downstream of the lake because the ice is volatile and the water is cold.

He urged extreme caution near the river.

"We're not encouraging people to take it upon themselves. It's not a safe thing to do," he said.

"If somebody happens to be in a situation and becomes aware of something that might be useful, by all means, call 911 or contact us immediately."

About the Author

Kate has been covering issues affecting people in southern Ontario for more than 14 years. She currently works for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.