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NSW weather: Search continues for 11yo Ryan Teasdale missing in stormwater drains

By Clare Blumer, Friday March 17, 2017 - 12:37 EDT
ABC licensed image
Ryan Teasdale went missing yesterday afternoon. - ABC licensed

The Wollongong Mayor says the "worst outcome" is expected as 100 emergency services personnel search with robotic cameras for missing boy Ryan Teasdale, who disappeared in yesterday's wild weather while boogie boarding on a reserve near a stormwater drain.

Police said Ryan, 11, was in heavy rain with more than a dozen other children, including his older brother, at about 4:30pm in Riley Park, Unanderra in Wollongong.

At about 6:30pm, family raised the alarm that Ryan was missing.

"What they were doing was riding on boogie boards down the reserve, due to the rain, and what we believe may have happened is that Ryan may have fallen into one of those drains," Superintendent Zoran Dzevlan, Lake Illawarra police commander said.

"We have been searching that immediate vicinity and we have also been searching where the drains finish into the creeks and surrounding areas."

Superintendent Dzevlan said Ryan could be in a "countless" number of drains, and might have even have been swept into the harbour via Albert Creek.

He said a similar incident had happened about 25 years ago and the boy had not been found at that time.

Mayor expecting the worst

The Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery warned people not to go near drains or storm water in the dangerous conditions.

"The message is out there. Don't go into storm water, avoid it. We don't know the depth of it, we don't know the volume of it or the speed, but also what's in it," he said.

"Things are all pointing to the possible worse outcome, but at the same time we're living in hope that he might be found."

Mr Bradbery said the council engineers were working with emergency services and opening up drains where they could.

"Where we can't put personnel into those drains, and keeping in mind their safety, we're putting robots, and robotic cameras are down there now."

The superintendent asked the community not to join the search party because it was a dangerous task.

"It's been raining all night, they expect it to rain again today, I wouldn't want anyone to put themselves in danger," he said.

"We have experienced people who are doing what they do best."

Family are 'devastated'

One witness who lives across the road from the reserve where Ryan went missing said a number of children were riding boogie boards down a hill that connects to a stormwater drain.

"They were just riding the water down the hill and it does connect up to the drain if they go far enough…the water flows down the hill and into the drain," said Andy, a woman who lives across the road from the park.

She realised there was a problem about 7:00pm on Thursday.

"I went over and talked to the mum and apparently her son had gone missing and it wasn't like him.

"It was him and his brother down here, and his brother went running home saying his brother had disappeared."

Andy said the mother was "devastated".

Superintendent Dzevlan said the family was at home now while the professionals undertook the drain and creek searches.

"My youngest is 11 years old this year and I don't even want to think about what they would be going through," he said.

"I remain hopeful we find him."


© ABC 2017

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