Police, volunteers continue search for Ariel Kouakou
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018 2:56PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 15, 2018 12:56PM EDT
Police and volunteers continued searching Thursday morning for ten-year-old Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou, although days of constant effort have turned up no sign of the boy.
Overnight Wednesday dozens of people looked near the Riviere des Prairies, with volunteers taking turns warming up in a bus parked at the scene.
Many of those helping the search were parents who said they felt compelled to help out, and would hope that the community would rally to do the same if their children ever went missing.
Meanwhile a storekeeper has found the boy walked past his establishment on Monday morning.
Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou was last seen at lunchtime on Monday when he left home to visit a friend.
While his family said Ariel left home at noon, the owner of a store on Gouin Blvd. said he recorded Ariel walking past his store at 11:15 a.m. on surveillance video that has since been given to police.
The store's owner said the time on his machine is accurate and was changed in accordance with the DST switch -- even though the time on the tape is almost an hour earlier than when the boy was reported at leaving home.
The boy apparently arrived at his friend's house to discover nobody was there, and was spotted by a woman around 2 p.m in Parc des Bataliers, about halfway between Ariel's home and his friend's house.
According to police, the woman said Ariel looked sad when he was in the park.
Ever since, Ariel's family has been looking for him. There is a police officer stationed outside his house in case he returns home on his own.
His father, Kouadio ‘Frederic’ Kouakou is holding out hope his boy will return home safely.
"My son (will) come back. I have that feeling,” he told reporters. “I have hope, I have hope."
Search teams focused on the vast greenspace bordering the Riviere des Prairies on Wednesday.
His father said he didn’t believe his son would go near the river.
"We miss him a lot. Me, his mother, his little sister, his brothers, and all his friends – we miss him" said Kouakou. "We're waiting for him at home."
Police launched an Amber alert Tuesday afternoon to increase awareness of his disappearance because the weather had turned for the worse. They dropped the amber alert at 11 p.m. Tuesday, but continue to search Ahuntsic-Cartierville.
Officers on horseback and ATVs have been patrolling parks near the Riviere des Prairies, while police have been going door-to-door to see if anyone has seen Ariel.
Inspector Andre Durocher said everyone in the neighbourhood should check their property for anywhere a boy could be concealed.
"Not only with regards to potential trails or anything, we're also concerned if this same event were to take place in the summer, we wouldn't be worried about the child being cold or anything," said Durocher.
"Maybe he crossed a fence somewhere and fell in a backyard and is injured somewhere. A lot of people are asking us how we can help. Well every single resident in that area if they look in their backyard, behind their shed or whatever."
Ariel is 140 cm tall and weighs 40 kg (4'7", 88 lbs). He has black hair, dark eyes, dark brown skin and speaks French.
He was last seen wearing a black hooded coat, grey pants, and yellow shoes.
Friends and concerned neighbours canvassed the neighbourhood in small groups in the hopes of finding him.
Issiaka Samassi, who knows the boy's father, said he joined the search in response to a call from the local Ivorian association.
He said searchers were very worried, but still hopeful the boy would be found safe.
"It's already been two to three days, and (it's harder) with the snow, but we still have hopes of finding him," Samassi said in an interview.
"We hope to find him at someone's place, that someone took him in and will come forward."
- With a report from Morgan Lowrie of The Canadian Press