As It Happens

'We're not stopping': Volunteers vow to keep searching for Ont. boy swept away in current

Richard Croft has been co-ordinating the search for Kaden Young, 3, since Feb. 21 "We're finding him. There's no question," he said. "We're not stopping until he's home."

Kaden Young, 3, presumed dead after being carried away by the fast-moving Grand River Feb. 21

Kaden Young, 3, has been missing since he was pulled from his mothers arms and swept into the Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., on Feb. 21. (Submitted by the Young family)

Richard Croft says volunteers will not stop scouring the banks of the Grand River for three-year-old Kaden Young until they find his remains. 

The young boy was in his family's van in the early hours of Feb. 21 when the vehicle was swallowed up by rising flood waters near Grand Valley, Ont. 

His mother managed to get the boy out of the van, but lost her grip in the strong current and he was swept downstream in the Grand River.

Hundreds of people spent the Easter long weekend searching for Kaden's remains, to no avail. 

But Croft, a tow-truck driver who has been co-ordinating the search effort, says volunteers have no intention of throwing in the towel. 

He spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about the ongoing search for Kaden. Here is part of that conversation.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people showed up to take part in the search. It was, I think, a bitterly cold Easter weekend. Why do you think so many people were there?

It's a three-year-old boy that's not home with his family, and many people do look at Easter as a family occasion. I think a lot of people were just trying to come out to help bring him home for Easter.

Volunteers have been searching along Grand River between Grand Valley and Fergus, Ont., for the body of three-year-old Kaden Young. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

And how far and wide had they come for that search?

From everywhere, to be honest with you. We've had people drive as far as three hours just to search for the day and then head back home. So it's quite a lot of places that they're coming from.

And these are people who don't know the family. ... What did that mean to the young family that all these people came?

It means a great deal. Yesterday, they held an Easter dinner for these people that come out day in and day out. And it's just remarkable to see how people are coming together to make sure that we accomplish our goal and bring Kaden home.

'We're finding him. There's no question. We're bringing him home. We're not stopping until he's home.- Richard Croft, search co-ordinator 

How did you come to meet the family?

I heard the call over the radio. And me being in a tow truck for the last almost 20 years and dealing with emergency services quite a bit, I knew fire trucks don't have winches. When you have a vehicle in the river, you need something that's going to pull it in.

And what were the waters like that night?

They were insane. That word really is insane. They were probably about 15 to 20 feet higher than normal. They were probably reaching up to 150 feet in some places up the banks from one side of the river. 

When we're doing our search, we're not just looking on the ground. We're also looking up at trees. We're moving everything.

There's so much wash that was there that night. There's ice everywhere. There's trees — downed trees that were pushed all over the place and pushed into piles, which we're ripping apart.

It's quite intense what's going on there because of a river.

A memorial for Kaden on a bridge overlooking the Grand River. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

You have been part of this search since it happened. This has gone on for six weeks they've been looking for little Kaden Young's body. What toll is this having on you?

It's hard, but I keep my focus.

I look forward and my goal is to bring Kaden home, and that's what I think about, and that's what keeps me going every day.

I've got a son myself, and I couldn't imagine what this family is going through. So the sooner we can bring him home, the sooner they can get closure.

And that's what this is about.

It must be so difficult for them.

It is. It's tough. Every day gets tougher. You know, that's why we're here. That's why we keep going every day.

They need this closure. They need a place where they can go and visit him. Right now, they don't have that. And that's what we're going to do for them. We're going to bring Kaden home.

And are people like yourself having any sense that maybe you will not be able to find his remains?

We're finding him. There's no question. We're bringing him home. We're not stopping until he's home.

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Katie Geleff.


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