RNLI crews stood down from the River Stour search for missing Lucas Dobson- other agencies continue

Ramsgate RNLI has been stood down (Photo Ramsgate RNLI)

Ramsgate RNLI lifeboat crews have been stood down from the search for missing six year old Lucas Dobson.

The crews were part of a multi-agency search since the report of Lucas falling into the River Stour at 1.20pm on Saturday (August 17).

Coastguard, KFRS, Kent Search and Rescue and Kent Police, plus an army of volunteers, are still involved in the search as it enters its third day.

(UPDATE 4.12pm, August 19 – Kent Search and Rescue say they will not be tasking volunteers with firther searching today. A statement says: “Thank you for all those who have been out searching the areas around Sandwich for Lucas today.

“We would like to state that due to deteriorating weather conditions we will not be tasking any further searches by members of the public today. We can confirm that the emergency services will be continuing searching until last light and we thank you for your understanding.”)

The youngster had been out fishing with his dad and friends.

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

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 have been involved in the operation.

Photo Chloe Martin

Yesterday (August 18) a team was out with the scanner equipment, starting at the point where Lucas fell and going downstream towards the Viking Bay river estuary before looping around.

The scanning equipment is in use again today as KFRS, Kent Search and Rescue and police, plus hundreds of volunteers, resume the search.

The decision to stand down the RNLI team from Ramsgate has been made now that it has sadly become a recovery operation rather than a rescue bid. However, rescue services said they hoped Lucas had managed to get out of the water and find some shelter and have been asking people to check sidetracks that lead off the river.

Ramsgate’s inshore lifeboat team have thanked the community for its support during the search,

Photo Tyrone Keen

The team launched at the request of UK Coastguard at just after 2pm on Saturday to assist in a multi-agency. The crew carried out an extensive search, with three crew changes during the night, returning to station at 1am Sunday morning.

They relaunched at 4:30am Sunday morning and continued the search, again changing crew three times, until the multi-agency decission was made to stand down at 5pm yesterday.

RNLI thanks to the community

A Ramsgate RNLI spokesperson said: “The Ramsgate RNLI crew are so grateful for the support of the people in Sandwich and the way they provided emotional and food support. It was greatly appreciated. A real sense of a community coming together.”

The search for Lucas

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.

St Mary’s Church in Sandwich is open  to provide refreshments for searchers. Thanet resident and Southern Water worker Nathan Coade has arranged for the firm to deliver bottled water for searchers today.

Police Superintendent leading the search

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

She said: “I would once again like to thank those members of the public who are helping to search for Lucas. This goes to all those people who assisted over the weekend and to those who’ve shown up again today. Everyone is working tirelessly to ensure we have every possibility covered.

“There has been an overwhelming response to the incident, with people coming to help from far and wide – including outside of our county. For this we are extremely grateful and we continue to use all resources available to us.

“Lucas’ family have asked me to extend their sincere thanks to everyone who has and continues to help find him.

“I would take this opportunity to remind volunteers to adhere to all the safety advice that has been provided during the briefings at the fire station in Sandwich and check the Kent Fire and Rescue Service website for more guidance before heading out, visit www.kent.fire-uk.org

“It’s imperative that people stay safe around the water.

“This is understandably a very difficult time for Lucas’ family and are thoughts and support remain with them.”

Candle light vigils

A candle light vigil is being held this evening at the King’s Steps on Margate seafront and at Ramsgate sands by the Rainbow Steps. Another is organised for Broadstairs bandstand. All take place at 6.30pm, people are asked to wear red and bring candles.

Vigils are also being held at the same time at Sandwich Quay and beaches in Dover and Deal. A Light Up the Coast for Lucas event is urging people to gather at all local beaches around the coast at 6.30pm.

Official events in Sandwich and Deal start at 8pm.

In Sandwich there will be a candlelit walk and vigil, meeting at St Mary’s Sandwich at 8pm and walking down to the quayside from there. At St George’s Deal from 8pm  people will be invited to come into the church, light a candle for Lucas and his family and spend time together with their prayers and thoughts.

Lucas’ family have requested that those attending vigils wear red, Lucas’ favourite colour.

For those coming to Sandwich, try and park outside of the main town centre and walk in to avoid traffic congestion.

Fundraiser

A Justgiving page has been launched to support the family and the search. It says: “We are trying raise funds to support the searches of the local area, to make sure we find him as soon as possible.

“Lucas‘s family and friends are not willing to give up until the little man is safely back in their arms. The funds will allow for the family to carry on and manpower to help with searching the river when emergency services can’t cover other areas.”

Find the fundraiser here

The operation so far

The search is for missing 6 year-old Lucas Dobson who fell into the River Stour on Saturday (August 17).

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 held briefings to decide a plan and course of action to look for Lucas.

The main base has been Sandwich Fire Station, Ash Road CT13 9HZ.

Hundreds of local people have also joined the search and businesses have donated food and drink.

A Search for Lucas facebook page has been set up to share coordinating information. Click here to find it,

Photo Tyrone Keen

Yesterday specialist search workers were sonar scanning the bottom of the River Stour. The team have been using the scanner equipment, starting at the point where Lucas fell and going downstream towards the Viking Bay river estuary before looping around. That work continues today (August 19).

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 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

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

His cousin Chloe Martin said: “This is my little cousin and I’m so thankful and appreciate everyone’s that’s 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.”

Photo Tyrone Keen

Kent’s emergency services are encouraging people to consider their safety and the risks associated with water.  The advice is:
– 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 taken part in the search over the course of the three days.

A specialist diving team has been searching the river.”

Kent Fire and Rescue Service are co-ordinating the search. Further details and safety advice are available at www.kent.fire-uk.org.

Briefing

At the briefing police and rescue services asked for no boats on the rivers and for people to stay at least 3ft away from the banks and search in groups of 2 or more. They suggest taking regular breaks and keeping hydrated and well fed.
People are being split into three groups of search areas and are asked to stick to these areas so as to not hinder the police in their own investigations.

Child care for searchers

On Sunday Pegwell Bay nursery opened its doors for searchers who have children.

Support

A Kent Fire and Rescue Services statement says: “The emergency services are very grateful for all the help and support, but it’s paramount that people remain safe at all times – thank you.”

The search has had emergency services covering the area where Lucas went into the water with volunteers split in groups,  searching from the quay up towards Pegwell Bay and  searching up towards Richborough.

Advice was to not to go into any overgrown banks and not to go into the water where the current can be 10mph and the water up to 4 meters deep.

Photo Tyrone Keen

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