Witness recounts first attempts to rescue boy from St. Lawrence River

Witness recounts first attempts to rescue boy from St. Lawrence River

Ontario Provincial Police say the search for an 11-year-old boy on the St. Lawrence River has become an effort to recover his body five days after he disappeared beneath the waves.

Police were called to an area of the river just west of Rockport, Ont., Saturday afternoon after five people were thrown into the river when their catamaran speed boat capsized.

Four of the boat's passengers were rescued, but the Ottawa-area boy hasn't been found.

First on the scene

Stéphane Leduc has regularly boated that section of the river for a decade and was part of a group of boaters that tried to help on Saturday.

"We saw a boat flip upside down and the boat was just beside us. We were one of the first to arrive to the crash scene," Leduc said.

"We tried to help the people. We were three groups of people that were there with boats and Sea-Doos and we tried to help the people that just crashed the best we could."

The boaters tried diving several times in the fast-moving water, Leduc said. 

"There's a lot of currents, especially in the place where that crash happened," he said. 

"The water was pretty rough. There was a lot of wind and a lot of people in the water."

OPP Const. Sandra Barr said the search will continue after 8 a.m. Wednesday and that it has involved co-operation from both Canadian and American border services. 

She said members from the public have continued to offer their support, though they should stay clear of police dive teams while they are at work.

"They're just saying, 'Anything that you need, we're there for you, just ask,'" she said.

Difficult for police divers

Barr said two OPP dive teams are using a grid search technique to examine the riverbed, sometimes diving as deep as 60 metres below the surface

"It's very difficult to see at a certain depth with this water," she said.

"Our dive unit does go out to a certain point and depth but they've got to come up as well. They've got to look after their safety."

Barr is in contact with the family of the boy.

"For me to speak about how that must feel, I can't," she said.

"I've never been through something like that, but I'm seeing it with them and it's just devastation."