Boy, 4, goes missing at Boy Scout camp in Ark.
HARDY, Ark. — Jason and Racheal Downs have a 4-year-old son Kaleb, so when they heard another Caleb, also 4, had gone missing at a nearby Boy Scout camp, they felt compelled to help look for him.
The Viola parents were among the hundreds of strangers and law enforcement officers who have been scouring the Kia Kima Scout Reservation since Caleb Linn went missing Saturday, searching the woods and fast-moving waterway that flows beneath the bridge where he was last seen.
“We’d want them coming for our kids,” another searcher, Steve Williams, said.
While divers plunged into a tributary of the Spring River and a helicopter hovered overhead, volunteer searchers went out on horseback, foot and four-wheelers. But as the search resumed Tuesday, there were still no clues as to Caleb’s whereabouts.
Authorities ruled out foul play, and said Caleb could have wandered off or fallen into the swollen tributary near the bridge, which he and several other children were helping his aunt clear of debris left by a recent storms.
The children weren’t there as Scouts, but to get the camp ready for the Scouts who spend summers there.
Five of the children, who are related, headed up to the main campsite where they were staying as the aunt watched the grounds while a caretaker was away, Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley said.
The children were about 300 yards away when Caleb decided he wanted to join them. His aunt, Rhonda Wright, told him to follow the dirt road and head back to the cabin, Foley said. Then, she went back to clearing debris.
Caleb could have fallen in the nearby Spring River tributary, which was saturated with rain from storms that swept the region.
“The way the water’s running, you wouldn’t hear a splash,” Foley said.
Or he could have veered off into the woods or a nearby field on the trek back to the cabin.
“I think he just wandered off,” Foley said.
Authorities were still proceeding Tuesday under the assumption that Caleb is alive. But on Monday, they brought in cadaver dogs and set a net downstream that could catch a body. If he did fall in, there’s no guarantee the net would catch him because he could have passed that point before it was set up, said Major Todd Smith, the assistant chief of enforcement for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
“It’s like looking for a needle in the haystack,” Smith said. “There’s no way to search the whole river.”
The weather has been dry and moderate since Caleb’s disappearance, increasing his chances of surviving in the wilderness. And by Monday, the waterway had receded enough to allow divers to clear debris from beneath the bridge and take underwater photographs.
Caleb’s mother and stepfather, who live 150 miles west of Hardy in Springdale, were put up in a cabin at the camp, and when approached, said they didn’t want to speak to the media.
As dusk fell Monday, searchers left cases of bottled water and bags of cookies behind for the boy. Sheriff’s deputy Boyd Dailey said he was hoping Caleb might be heeding the advice parents give their children: Don’t talk to strangers.
“If he’s out there, he’s scared, and if he’s hiding, maybe he’ll pop up and somebody will see him,” he said.
This story was written and provided by The Associated Press Wire. (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)