Sonar scan equipment used on River Stour as search for missing Lucas Dobson continues

Lucas Dobson Photo Maciee Stanford

Specialist search workers are sonar scanning the bottom of the River Stour in the second day of the search for missing six year old Lucas Dobson.

Lucas, from Deal, fell in the river yesterday (August 17) at around 1.20pm while out fishing with his dad and friends.

Lucas’s aunt Maciee Standford said the youngster fell in the gap between the jetty and the boat. Despite his dad and adults in the group immediately going in the water to find him, he disappeared.

A team is currently out with the scanner equipment, starting at the point where Lucas fell and going downstream towards the Viking Bay river estuary before looping around.

Photo Tyrone Keen

A one mile exclusion zone is in place on the river around the scrap yard at Richborough Road to prevent any form of public water vessel like canoes or boats with engines entering the primary search zone. This is to allow the water to remain as still as possible and to enable the search and rescue teams to carry out their work.

The search will continue until 10pm and then. if necessary, resume in the morning.

The areas that the hundreds of volunteers have been searching are:
Zone 1 – From Castle Cottages heading upstream
Zone 2 – From the Toll Bridge towards the coast

St Mary’s Church in Sandwich is open until 10pm to provide refreshments for searchers.

Photo Tyrone Keen

The specialist and experienced search and rescue teams from Kent’s emergency services, partner agencies and charities including KFRS, Kent Police, the Coastguard, Kent Search and Rescue and the RNLI are involved in the operation.

Photo Chloee Martin

Desperate family members have been holding on to the hope that Lucas will be returned to them safely.

His cousin Chloee Martin said: “This is my little cousin and I’m so thankful and appreciate everyone help. I really hope he’s found and safe. It’s horrible not knowing and thinking all sorts. We just need him back in his parents’ arms.”

His aunt Maciee said: “What an amazing turn out today, thank you everyone so so much, we appreciate every single ounce of help we get.

“There will be another meet at 9am tomorrow (August 19) at Sandwich fire station where we will continue the search for our darling Lucas.”

Photo Tyrone KeenA statement from Kent Fire and Rescue Service issued this evening (August 18) says: “The search for missing six year-old Lucas Dobson has continued throughout the day and will do so until around 10pm tonight.

“Emergency services, partner agencies, charities and members of the public have been working together as part of a coordinated search on land, along the river banks and in the water of the River Stour near Sandwich. The specialist and experienced search and rescue teams will continue their work until light prevents them tonight, however they will return first thing in the morning.

“The search teams have been inundated with support; from people helping to look for Lucas to donations of food, water and torches – Thank you.”

Kent’s emergency services are encouraging people who choose to keep looking tonight to consider their safety and the risks associated with water.  The advice as the light fades remains as:
– Stay a safe distance from the water edge on the banks, do not enter the water.
– Work in pairs, not alone.
– Remain in contact with others and have a phone with you.
– As light fades make sure you have a torch and you are sticking to the main tracks.

Many volunteers, such as Ramsgate residents Tyrone and Katie Keen, have again pledged to stay beyond 10pm to continue the search.

A Kent Search and Rescue spokesperson said: “Our search teams in Sandwich continue, alongside Kent Police, Kent Fire & Rescue Service, Coastguard, RNLI and many other amazing volunteers to search for Lucas.

“Our thoughts are with his parents, family, friends and community at this time. We ask for members of the public to continue to remain safe and call 999 if they have any information which may support us in this search.”

Superintendent Amanda Tillotson said a positive outcome is now ‘unlikely’ but the search will continue.

Read here: The search for Lucas