Public urged to stay away from river as search goes on for missing two-year-old

Water levels at the scene are dangerous, Leicestershire Police assistant chief constable Michaela Kerr said.

Stephanie Wareham
Monday 19 February 2024 15:24 GMT
A search operation is under way after a two-year-old boy fell into the River Soar near the Aylestone Meadows area on Sunday (Jacob King/PA)
A search operation is under way after a two-year-old boy fell into the River Soar near the Aylestone Meadows area on Sunday (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

Specialist dive teams are continuing their efforts to trace a two-year-old boy who fell into the River Soar in Leicester on Sunday as police urged the public not to go to the scene.

The boy had been with family when he fell into the water in the Aylestone Meadows area, close to Marsden Lane, at around 5pm.

A man who was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure has been discharged, Leicestershire Police said.

Leicestershire Police assistant chief constable Michaela Kerr, speaking to reporters on Monday, said they have “reinforced our resources” to find the boy and urged well-meaning members of the public not to attend the scene due to rising water levels.

She said: “I would like to begin by extending my thoughts to the family, who we recognise must be going through a very distressing time at this particular moment.

“We do have specialist officers with that family and we are ensuring that we share any information and developments with them.

“We have today reinforced our resources searching for that little boy.

“We are using specialist divers within the River Soar and we continue to use the helicopter and aerial technology to try and locate the little boy.

“Our priority for Leicestershire Police is to make sure that we find this little boy.”

Specialist teams were deployed to the area yesterday evening, including Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, and the operation continued overnight with force units using night vision goggles searching the area.

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) and drone unit also supported officers on the ground.

On Monday, police dogs and specialist diving teams from Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire are supporting Leicestershire officers as the search continues at the scene.

ACC Kerr, who is leading the investigation, said: “As soon as the report was received yesterday, officers and other emergency services were deployed to the scene.

“Searches commenced immediately and continued throughout the night.

“Rising water levels made the searches difficult. However, we used the resources available to us including NPAS to try and locate the boy.

“This morning additional specialist teams including dive teams from Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire Police are being deployed to the scene.

“We do please continue to ask members of the public to not carry out their own searches, due to the dangerous water levels at the scene.

“If anyone has any information or comes across anything that may assist officers, they are asked to contact us immediately.

“Thank you to all our officers and specialist teams who continue to work extremely hard at the scene in what are very difficult circumstance for everyone involved. Thank you also to you, the members of the public, for your ongoing support and co-operation. It is very much appreciated.”

A long-standing resident whose home overlooks Aylestone Meadows said flooding from the River Soar in recent weeks had left parts of the nature reserve in a treacherous state.

She said a helicopter had initially flown over the area for around an hour after reports a two-year-old child had fallen in the river.

The resident told reporters: “It seemed to be there for a long time hovering.

“It felt as if it was above my house. The lights were on and it didn’t move for about an hour or so.”

The woman, who walks regularly in the area, said a nearby canal and the river sometimes “go into one” during peak flooding periods.

“It’s fast-flowing,” she said of current conditions. “It’s been quite bad.

“It’s devastating to think how they (family members) must be feeling.”

Anyone with any information should contact 999 quoting incident 476:180224.

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