Update: Family asks for public’s help to continue search for missing 4-year-old child in Yakima
An electronic map in the Yakima County Sheriff’s Mobile Command Post shows how thorough the search for a missing 4-year-old boy has been.
The map shows the area around Sarg Hubbard Park densely covered with searcher tracks, and markers indicating that volunteers and trained searchers were searching as far north as the Naches River and towards Union Gap in the south for Lucian James Munguia, who has was reported missing on Saturday.
Authorities are reducing the presence of trained search teams after scouring the places where he would most likely be found. But those in search are not ready to give up hope that Lucian will be found alive and are encouraging the public to help.
“The focus is always on search and rescue,” said Deputy Kyle Cameron, who coordinates the sheriff’s search and rescue team. The team leads the search, directing searchers to various areas along the Yakima River and Greenway.
Statistically, the chance of finding Lucian dropped to 50% after 48 hours, but Cameron said there have been cases of people being found alive after being missing for longer than that.
Yakima Police Chief Matt Murray and Sheriff Robert Udell in a joint press release said members of the public, who were initially discouraged from joining the search in its early stages, should seek out Lucian or any clues to his whereabouts.
“We continue to dedicate personnel to this effort and sincerely pray for a positive outcome,” Murray and Udell said in a statement. “We ask that you continue to keep Lucian’s family in your thoughts. It is an incredibly painful situation.
Lucian disappeared at the park, near the Yakima River, around 7:15 p.m. Saturday. His family called the police after their own 15-minute search proved fruitless, launching a massive search of the park and surrounding areas.
Lucian was last seen heading south and east through the park parking lot, toward the river and other bodies of water.
Cameron said YPD quickly cordoned off the park and began a search. More than 150 trained researchers from across the state, including Moses Lake, Yakima, and Gleed Fire Departments, Pierce, King, Spokane, Kittitas, and Klickitat counties, and U.S. Air Force program personnel at Fairchild Air Force Base which trains aircrew to survive and evade capture if shot down, joined the effort.
About 200 non-search team members also helped out, Cameron said, with local businesses providing food and drink. He said outreach teams from Camp Hope and Union Gospel Mission were involved in the effort.
The searchers also used aerial and submersible drones to search for Lucian, as well as a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera. He said researchers also used dogs, divers, ATVs, boats and kayaks in the research.
Yakima police detectives searched for video footage in and around the park in hopes of finding any sign of Lucian, according to a police news release. Police found no signs of foul play in Lucian’s disappearance.
While the initial search area was focused around Sarg Hubbard Park, Cameron said crews went as far south as the area near Valley Mall Boulevard in Union Gap, where they ran out of ground between the river and the highway, and traveled north to the railroad. tracks cross the Naches River.
A potential complication in the research is Lucian’s autism, Cameron said. Children with autism sometimes hide or run away from researchers, he said.
“With our missing person today, he was drawn to lights and police lights, his parents said,” Cameron said. “It’s hard to say if he would approach us, but that’s what we’re telling the team. We’re looking like he doesn’t want to approach us.
Another issue is some of the homeless people camping along the river and greenway. Cameron said some of the searchers were thrown at rocks and yelled at by homeless people who told them to leave or gave them false reports of hearing a child crying.
“Homelessness (people) was a big deal for this research alone,” Cameron said. “It scares (researchers). It makes them hesitant to go to certain areas.” He said Camp Hope and the Gospel Mission tried to encourage these people to come to their shelters, but they refused.
Search teams sorted through several Lucian sighting reports that proved unsuccessful.