After several days of searches in the icy Rivière des Prairies for a missing 10-year-old boy, police say their operations in the water are finished for now.
Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou disappeared March 12 after he left his home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville to meet a friend.
On Friday and Saturday, divers and a specialized canine unit from the RCMP searched the river, which borders des Bateliers Park, where Ariel was last seen.
Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière said the conditions around and in the water were no longer safe and investigators are now focusing their efforts on other areas.
“We’re doing everything we can do to find Ariel,” he said.
“To answer the question, a question that is very difficult for the family, of where he is … We don’t have an answer so it is not finished for us.”
No sign Ariel left the park
Police officers, the boy’s family and volunteers have repeatedly canvassed the neighbourhood for any information on the boy in the weeks since he was last seen.
While police say they are considering all possible scenarios, the leading hypothesis remains that he fell into the river and drowned. But several searches of the water by divers and robotic cameras have failed to turn up any sign of the boy.
It is still considered a criminal investigation, Lafrenière said, because nothing has emerged that can confirm otherwise.
Investigators with the Montreal police and the Sûreté du Québec have met with more than 40 people since the boy’s disappearance, he said.
Surveillance video and a witness have surfaced that show Ariel walking down Gouin Boulevard and placing him in the park around midday on March 12.
“It’s the absence of information that makes us believe it was an accident because [nothing shows him] leaving the park,” Lafrenière said.
Police also announced they are moving their command post from the parking lot of Galeries Normandie to Station 10 in on O’Brien Boulevard in Ahuntstic-Cartierville. They are asking anyone with information to meet with investigators at the station or call 911.
Here are details about Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou, who speaks French:
- About four foot seven tall, weighing 88 pounds.
- Dark hair and dark eyes.
- Last seen wearing a black coat with a hood, grey pants and yellow shoes.