Dylan Ehler: Parents want changes to missing child alerts after five-year-old son’s disappearance

The couple accuse police of ‘improperly handling’ case

Helen Elfer
Monday 22 November 2021 16:55
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<p>Dylan Ehler with family</p>

Dylan Ehler with family

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The parents of missing toddler Dylan Ehler are calling for a new emergency alert system to be created for when young children go missing.

Three-year-old Dylan has been missing for over a year, after vanishing from his grandmother’s Nova Scotia backyard when unattended for what she says was a matter of seconds in May 2020.

The only trace ever found was the toddler’s rubber boots, which were discovered submerged in a brook near his grandmother’s house six hours after he was reported missing.

Dylan’s parents, Ashley Brown and Jason Ehler, say the police response was not adequate and that precious time was wasted early on in the search efforts.

A petition, which has garnered almost 2,500 signatures says the Truro Police Service “improperly handling the investigation of a missing child.”

According to CTV News, there was a delay of 2hrs 21 minutes between the initial 911 call reporting Dylan missing to Truro police and full deployment of search and rescue teams, while a “non-intrusive public alert” wasn’t issued until three hours and eight minutes later.

Neither the public alert nor the search and rescue operations could be activated until authorised by Truro police.

Truro police Chief Dave MacNeil said the case was investigated thoroughly, including as a potential crime. “We’re very confident in our investigation. It was very thorough. There was no stone left unturned.” he said.

Dylan’s mother Ashley Brown also says police only focused on the theory that Dylan fell into the water and was swept out to sea.

“They never treated Dylan’s case like a criminal investigation. They just treated it like a search and rescue. I know that they didn’t block off any streets. They didn’t stop the public from coming into the crime scene of the area that he went missing and they were very late on issuing alerts and getting help. So I think that tunnel vision did have a play in that. Once they found the boots and that was it, that’s where he went and essentially the police tell us that we need to accept it. And move on,” she said.

The petition calls for a new emergency alert system to be established to avoid delays happening in future cases.

Called the Ehler Alert, it would enable “the rapid distribution of information to the public about young children lost in potentially hazardous environments,” says the petition.

It continues: “We believe these circumstances should require an instant public notification. When any child goes missing, time is of the essence and sometimes the assembly of search and rescue efforts takes up too much crucial time in the safe recovery of that child.”

As time passes with still no further evidence as to what happened to Dylan, his father continues to organise volunteer searches for his son.

He said: “The only time I feel at peace is when I’m searching for him, I can breathe. When I’m not, I can’t breathe….I have to find him either way. I’m never going to stop because he’s my only child. He’s my everything.”

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