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‘Cheeky’ toddler missing in River Soar named and pictured as search enters fourth day

Xielo Maruziva has been described by his parents as a ‘bundle of joy’

Holly Evans
Wednesday 21 February 2024 20:34 GMT
Xielo Maruziva’s parents described him as a ‘caring and independent’ little boy
Xielo Maruziva’s parents described him as a ‘caring and independent’ little boy (Leicestershire Police/PA Wire)

A toddler who fell into the River Soar has been named and pictured by his distraught family, as police enter the fourth day of searching for the two-year-old.

Described by his parents as a “cheeky, funny” boy, Xielo Maruziva had been walking with his family in the Aylestone Meadows area of Leicester when he fell into the water at around 5pm on Sunday.

In a statement through Leicestershire Police, his mother said: “Xielo is a cheeky, funny, friendly, smart, caring and independent little boy. He never fails to make me laugh or smile, and always loves a cuddle and some kisses.

“Xielo loves playing with his toys and watching cartoons including Bino and Fino.

The boy was with family members when he fell into the fast-flowing River Soar in Leicester on Sunday (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

“Me, his dad and the whole family are so heartbroken at what has happened. We thank everyone who has supported us and helped us during this time. We are extremely grateful for this.

“All we want is for Xielo to be found as soon as possible.”

Specialist divers are continuing to search for the toddler, with the operation proving difficult given the treacherous conditions caused by heavy rainfall.

Xielo’s father has since been released from hospital, after being taken there as a precautionary measure after entering the water to try and rescue his son.

Accompanied with a picture of Xielo wearing a Spiderman outfit, his father said: “Xielo is a bundle of joy to us.

Specialist divers have been drafted in to help with the search (Matthew Cooper/PA Wire)

“He is a charming and creative little boy, and has just started at nursery. He loves cuddles, playing with his toys and going to the park.

“As a family we have been completely devastated over the past few days as the search for Xielo continues. It is hard to describe the pain and suffering we are going through.

“We would like to thank the search teams at the scene. We would also like to thank members of the public for all of your support. It is your prayers which are keeping us strong.

“We kindly ask that people wait for updates through the authorities in relation to the search as we continue to be overwhelmed with inquiries and messages at this time. Thank you all for your ongoing love and support.”

Officers confirmed on Tuesday that CCTV footage had been recovered showing the moment the two-year-old local boy fell into the fast-flowing river, which had burst its banks in parts of the nature reserve.

Leicestershire Police Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr said the force’s ‘priority’ is finding Xielo (PA)

As well as specialist diving teams, Leicestershire Police are also receiving support from Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, the Met, Kent and West Mercia Police forces.

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) and drone unit are also supporting, as well as the Environment Agency with their specialist mapping equipment.

Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr said: “As we now enter the fourth day of the search for the missing boy, we have been truly overwhelmed by the support we have received from forces and other agencies across the country as well as from our communities and the wider public. We really do thank you for this. The priority for us all remains to find this little boy and we are grateful for all of your help and support.

“Specialist officers continue to provide full support to the family and our thoughts very much remain with them. I thank them for their bravery, their support and co-operation with us at this extremely traumatic time.

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