Dive Squad To Search For Missing Gisborne Boy

By PETER FOWLER

The police dive squad is helping search for a four-year-old Gisborne boy who went missing yesterday afternoon.
 
Lucas Ward went missing at 3pm yesterday from his grandmother's home in Graham Rd in the suburb of Inner Kaiti.  Lucas' grandmother was briefly distracted and when she went to look for Lucas, he had disappeared.  The grandmother searched her property and nearby properties before notifying police at around 4.15pm.
 
An extensive search of the area was immediately launched using Police, volunteers from Land and Marine Search and Rescue and Maori Wardens.  Police also yesterday visited neighbouring properties in the street. 
 
Lucas had been known to "wander off" in the past.  As recently as Monday, he had left his grandmother's property and met up with a woman down the street who was walking her dog.
 
The search today is focussed on properties in the area and the Waimata River, which runs parallel along the back of properties on Graham Rd.   Police last night used an inflatable boat to search the river.  There have also been extensive foot searches along the riverbank.
 
Gisborne Area Commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said the police dive squad was due at around midday.  The squad would be searching the Waimata River near the property where Lucas went missing.  Foot searches of the area are also continuing.
 
Mr Aberahama said while the river was an obvious option to consider, the search would cover all neighbouring properties and streets.  Local schools were also being asked to search their grounds for the missing boy.
 
"We are keeping an open mind as to where Lucas may have wandered off to.  Police staff will be going door-to-door in the area again this morning and residents will be asked to search their houses and their properties."
 
Mr Aberahama said Lucas' family were understandably very upset by his disappearance.  They wished to thank everyone who had helped search for the boy.
 
"This is a very difficult time for them and they are gathering together as a family for support.  We will be doing everything we can to find Lucas for them," he said.
 
Police today were also following up two reported sightings of Lucas in the Graham Rd area yesterday afternoon.  Lucas had apparently been seen alone in the area.
 
Anyone with information about Lucas should contact Gisborne police on 06 8690200.  He is described as Caucasian, was wearing a light blue sweatshirt, track pants and he was barefoot.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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