Search for girl missing in Rockport passes 24 hours
ROCKPORT, Mass. (WHDH) -- K9 units searched the rocks at the far end of Long Beach based on the tides and the work of investigators on Friday. They continued their desperate search for 2.5-year-old Caleigh Harrison, who went missing on Thursday afternoon.
“We put a buoy with a weight attached -- approximately the weight of the girl -- in the area where we think she may have gone in, if in fact she went in the water and we’re following the path that buoy’s taken, to follow the tides and the currents. That buoy just ended up in this area -- this rocky area -- a short distance away here,” said one official.
Dive teams were back in the water in Rockport Friday, continuing their search for a little girl missing since Thursday afternoon.
The Coast Guard had called off their search by Friday afternoon, but state police and other agencies were still on the scene, using side-scanning sonar to scour the waters off the coast at depths of about 20 feet.
Police said there were two parallel investigations being conducted following Caleigh’s disappearance, one involving a possible drowning, the other a potential crime.
Police, search and rescue, and other investigators set up shop behind the homes on Long Beach, not far from where the missing toddler was last seen playing with her sister and mother.
Friends and family were camped out at Saratoga Point, a critical point in the day’s search.
“It’s every mother’s worst nightmare -- turn your back for one second and then she could be gone. It’s just, it’s just awful. It’s just so sad,” said one woman. “It’s so hard. So hard. I just want to do something. But I guess the good guys are doing the right thing and it’s all we can do…just pray.”
The tide was going out when Caleigh vanished in the few minutes it took her mother to retrieve a ball they had been playing with. But not being certain of whether it was two minutes or five has forced police to consider the potential for foul play.
“We have not ruled out the possibility that Caleigh was abducted,” Sate Police spokesman David Procopio said. “We have not found her anywhere yet, so we have not ruled out that there could have been a crime committed."
The search began just after noon Thursday, with dive teams and the Coast Guard in and above the water. Other search vessels moved diligently along the coast line, with no sign of the two-year-old anywhere.
The longer the search goes on, the tougher it becomes.
"We remain hopeful that there possibly could be a good outcome but we are conducting this operation with the understanding that that may not be the case,” Procopio said.
As part of the routine investigation, police are checking the state’s sex offender registry to see who might be living nearby.
Police were talking to witnesses and possible witnesses Friday, but they say there were very few people on the beach on Thursday.