“The brother heard him call out for help … and immediately rushed down the little track.”
Superintendent Travers said the boy’s 12-year-old brother couldn’t see his sibling but found the little blue plastic kayak lodged under a tree log that had been laying across the water since the family arrived at the camping ground.
The older brother sought help from his family who were sitting about 50 metres away but by the time they returned to the location where the boat was it had been swept downstream by the current.
Triple-0 was called and the boy’s father jumped in the water in a desperate effort to find his youngest son but the only thing he found was his little blue jumper wedged between rocks.
“We’re reasonably sure at that point in time he has entered the water somewhere there but we’re not actually sure where because no one actually saw that happen,” Superintendent Travers said.
“We now have the little boat, the little jumper and the paddle – that is all the property that has been recovered.
“It was a possibility that the young boy had – knowing he was a good swimmer and familiar with water and very familiar with the bush – it was a possibility he had surfaced somewhere and come ashore, at this point at time we don’t believe this has happened.
“We don’t believe he has survived this incident.”
Superintendent Travers said while it was too dangerous for police divers to enter some areas of the rapids, the state-of-the-art technology would be used to search the water instead.
“It’s an autonomous robotic camera – it’s got lights, it’s got camera, it’s got remote vision – and it’s able to make its way underneath,” she said.
“We’ll have a presence there as long as it’s practicable and that has no end date.”
Superintendent Travers said the family were told the search had become a recovery mission on Tuesday and that they had been “incredibly trusting of the emergency response and search effort that’s gone into finding their little boy”.
“In these traumatic circumstance we certainly appreciate all of the assistance the family has given,” she said.
“They are a loving, caring, very close family and this is a significant trauma for them as it would be for any family.”