Sudbury·Updated

North Bay hotel workers spot missing children

The keen eyes of workers at a hotel in North Bay helped police find two missing children who were the subject of an Amber Alert Thursday morning.

Police in northern Ontario community have taken father into custody

The keen eyes of workers at a hotel in North Bay helped police find two missing children who were the subject of an Amber Alert Thursday morning.

After seeing pictures of the children and their father in local media, workers at a North Bay hotel called police to say the three had checked into the hotel and then left.

Police said the employees were able to provide a description of the vehicle. Shortly afterwards, North Bay Police located the car with the father and children inside. The toddlers — aged one and three — were not hurt. The father is now in custody.

The children had been missing since Wednesday night, after the 34-year-old father — who does not have custody rights — took them from their grandparents’ home.

Police issued an Amber Alert for the children this morning, when a search for the children at the homes of friends and relatives in Timmins came up empty.

They found the father’s broken-down car on a city street, but there was still no sign of the three. The father had friends and relatives in Ottawa, Quebec and Nova Scotia, so police thought he was headed east. This proved to be the case, as he was found southeast of Timmins, about four hours away, in the city of North Bay.

WHAT IS AMBER?

Amber is an alert system established in the United States – and since adopted in Canada – to publicize child abductions. It uses electronic highway signs and designated local broadcasters to announce the missing child's name and description, and the description of any vehicle or person who is suspected to be involved in the abduction. It's named after a Texas girl, Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped and murdered near Dallas. The umbrella agency that oversees Amber has created the acronym for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response."

HOW DOES AMBER WORK?

Local police prepare an alert containing information such as the child's and/or abductor's description and other relevant information. A special press release is sent to television and radio stations designated as "Amber Alert Broadcasters." Getting the alert on the air immediately is a priority, as time is a factor in safe child rescues. Radio stations interrupt programming; TV stations may show a text "crawl" along the bottom of the screen. Roadside traffic pixel signs may show text or photos, depending on the technology available in the region.

IS AMBER A NATIONAL PROGRAM?

Every province has jurisdictions that have signed on to the Amber programme. However, an Amber alert issued in one region does not necessarily become a national Missing Persons bulletin. If there is reason to suspect the child is in danger and maybe travelling across the country, RCMP may issue a national warrant. Usually, however, an Amber alert is restricted to a local area.

WHAT IS CBC'S INVOLVEMENT IN AMBER?

The CBC participates fully in notifying the public of an Amber alert. Each CBC location works actively with their local police force to ensure the timely delivery and accuracy of each alert. The CBC has also established a national protocol to ensure that Amber alert information can be received and delivered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.