Rising water levels a concern for rescue crews searching for missing 5-year-old

Volunteers search the river for missing 5-year-old Frank Young (Submitted by Northern Photographer)

Chief Fabian Head of Red Earth Cree Nation says annual spring run-off from the river is becoming a concern for volunteers as the search for missing five-year-old Frank Young continues into its eighth day.

Chiefs from Red Earth Cree Nation and Shoal Lake Cree Nation provided an update on the search efforts Tuesday morning. They were joined by Carrot River RCMP Sgt. Richard Tonge, Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers’ (SARSAV) Media Liaison Dustin Brears, and FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat. 

Chief Fabian Head estimated that the river in the search area is around 15 to 20 feet deep as of April 25th, having risen a significant amount due to ice breaks since the search began last week. The water levels are beginning to pose a risk to divers and search crews on boats and canoes. 

“With the amount of snow on the ground this year, there is a need to be cautious,” he said. “Yesterday, ice on the river started to flow and we weren’t anticipating that until next week.”

Shoal Lake Chief Marcel Head added that ice jams along the narrower parts of the river are making searching by boat a challenge.

“[Searchers] were telling us sometimes they would have to push their way through the ice,” he said.

Roughly 200 volunteers and 13 search groups have covered over 92 square kilometres of the area since Frank disappeared on April 19th. Police have hope that Young is still alive and the search will remain a rescue.

“History [and] previous searches have shown us that humans can be incredibly resilient,” said Carrot River RCMP Sgt. Richard Tonge. “That is why our efforts continue.”

Police said that although Frank has no history of wandering off, investigation into a community member’s tip has confirmed that Frank was spotted at the local playground around 2:30 p.m. the day he went missing. 

Frank was last seen around 12:30 p.m. on April 19th at his home on the Red Earth Cree Nation, where he lived with his aunt and uncle. His parents reside on the nearby Shoal Lake Cree Nation.

Relatives of Frank are “under distress and mentally fatigued” and are currently receiving mental health support from the elders of the communities, according to Chief Marcel Head. 

Young is described as being 4 feet tall, weighing approximately 66 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing Paw Patrol rubber boots, green pajamas with dinosaurs on them, and a navy blue windbreaker-style jacket.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Frank Young is asked to contact 911 or Carrot River RCMP.