'We're all devastated': Search for missing Manitoba boy ends in tragedy
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, March 26, 2016 3:53PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 26, 2016 7:14PM EDT
The search for a missing Manitoba toddler has ended after his body was found on Saturday, RCMP say.
At a news conference on Saturday afternoon, RCMP Sgt. Bert Paquet said that two-year-old Chase Martens’ body was found in a creek, about 500 metres south of the home, shortly after 1 p.m.
Paquet said that there were no obvious signs of foul play.
"At this point, we are not looking at foul play and this appears to be a tragedy that we were all hoping to avoid," Paquet said.
Paquet said that Chase's body was found in the creek by a group of search and rescue volunteers.
He added that the creek had been considered a "high probability area" and was revisited several times as water levels and conditions changed.
Paquet said it appeared as though Chase walked off his front yard, but the investigation is ongoing.
The toddler’s body will be sent to the province's chief medical examiner for an autopsy.
Investigators have spoken to Chase's family.
Chase was last seen playing outside his home in the town of Austin, Man., at approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday.
A massive search ensued, and involved hundreds of people on foot, horseback, ATVs and in helicopters.
On Thursday, Chase's parents pleaded for any information that could help them track down their son. They said it was unusual for him to leave their property without the family dog.
Search efforts ramped up on Friday, when drones were brought in to map a four-kilometre area around the family's home, as well as an underwater recovery team.
James Favel, an organizer with the Winnipeg-based volunteer safety-patrol group Bear Clan, helped with the search. He told The Canadian Press on Saturday the discovery of Chase's body was the "worst possible outcome."
"We're all devastated here. We feel for the parents," said Favel.
"I have a grandson myself that's two-and-a-half-years old. I would be completely out of my mind right now," he added.
On Saturday, Paquet thanked volunteers for their help in the search.
"The true, genuine care and concern of Manitobans is something that should be recognized and commended," he said.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger also expressed his condolences for Chase's family on Twitter.
Our hearts go out to the family of Chase Martens today. We wish them peace in this time of sorrow.— Greg Selinger (@GregSelinger) March 26, 2016
Austin is located about 110 kilometres west of Winnipeg.
With files from The Canadian Press