Volunteers asked to stay away from search for missing schoolboy Lucas

By Abbianca Makoni, PA

Police have urged volunteers to “stay away” from the search for missing schoolboy Lucas Dobson.

The six-year-old went missing on Saturday afternoon after he slipped into the River Stour in Sandwich, Kent, while on a fishing trip with his family.

His father and two adults jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue him but he was swept away by a strong current.

Lucas Dobson missing
Lucas Dobson went missing in the River Stour in Sandwick on Saturday (Maciee Stanford/PA)

More than 200 volunteers have helped with the three-day search, with some coming from outside the county to take part in the rescue.

They gathered in groups and searched areas near the River Stour alongside police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and HM Coastguard.

On Tuesday, Chief Inspector Mark Weller, of Kent Police, said they had seen an “incredible” amount of support from volunteers, enabling them to quickly search a wide area and to rule out several locations.

But he added: “We are now at a stage where the river is our sole focus, given the time that has passed since Lucas disappeared.

“I don’t think the dangers of the water have been lost on anybody since the weekend and, as difficult as it is for us to ask, we are requesting people stay away from physically helping us search the river. This is for their own safety as well as that of emergency service workers in the area.”

Experts from the emergency services are continuing to use specialist equipment in order to find Lucas – including sonar detectors, underwater cameras, divers, dogs and drones.

River search
Specialists with Sonar equipment search a section of the River Stour (Gareth Fuller/PA)

On Monday night, Lucas’s aunt, Maciee Stanford, shared a post on Facebook showing pictures of her and Lucas and candles that were lit by members of the community in support of the family.

She wrote: “Our community is strong and has helped us as much as they can through this hard time for my family and I.

“I cannot begin to express how grateful we are for every single person out there that has turned up shared likes donated anything because it all helps it really does.”

Vigils were held in towns across the south-east of England for the missing schoolboy on Monday, while Twitter users shared images of lit candles under the hashtag #LightUpTheCoastForLucas in solidarity with his family.

CJ Barr, 16, attended a gathering in Aylesham, which she said was attended by around 200 people who were asked to wear red – Lucas’s favourite colour.

“It was a lovely environment to see everyone in red and putting their candle down for Lucas,” Ms Barr told the PA news agency. “I hope the vigil shares how positive everyone needs to be.”

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