Published: 14:45, 19 August 2019
| Updated: 11:01, 21 August 2019
Alarm was raised on Saturday after a six-year-old boy fell into the River Stour in Sandwich.
Later named as Lucas Dobson, it was soon revealed the little boy had fallen down a small gap between the jetty and a boat.
The body has not yet been formally identified as the Deal school boy but his family have been told.
Six-year-old Lucas, who lives in Deal, was by the river with his dad, his dad's friends and other children.
The group fish there regularly and all the children play together nearby.
His aunt Maciee Stanford said Lucas were on the jetty and tried to step from there onto the boat, when he fell into the water.
Three adults jumped in after him straight away but the strong current had already pulled him away.
In the short amount of time he could not be found.
Maciee added that although Lucas can swim, the family feared the Warden House Primary School pupil would have been too scared to do anything.
The search begins
The alert was raised at 1.20pm and the search began soon after.
The family continued their search, alongside the emergency services and members of the community, until around 10pm.
Ossie's Fish and Chip Shop hands out free chips
Staff saw searches for Lucas were underway via Facebook and wanted to do their bit.
The team lead by manager Hanifi Cosar peeled an extra four sacks of potatoes on Saturday evening, giving away around 100 portions of chips.
Briefing at Sandwich Fire Station
Crowds gathered on Sunday morning, joining the family in the search for Lucas.
The public were told to keep their search within 1km of Richborough Road.
Crowds gather to help look for Lucas
Safety advice issued
Kent Fire and Rescue Service advised people to keep clear of the rivers' edge, stay on the main tracks, work in groups and to always be equipped with a phone and torch, especially those continuing the search into the night.
Two main search zones identified
There are two zones local people were asked to search within:
Zone 1 - From Castle Cottages heading upstream
Zone 2 - From the Toll Bridge towards the coast
A one-mile exclusion zone was set up on the river around the scrapyard at Richborough Road to prevent any boats from entering the primary search zone.
This was to keep the water as still as possible and to enable the search and rescue teams to carry out their work as efficiently as possible.
Food and drink for those helping
Ossie's Fish and Chip Shop continued to give away free portions of chips to volunteers.
Staff also started a collection for the family which is thought to have raised up to £100.
Sandwich Town Council waivered its 20p fee for use of the public toilets on the Quay.
Helicopters, drones and Buzz the search dog called in to help
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS), the water rescue unit, technical rescue have all been searching, along with a KFRS dog, Buzz.
A drone has also been used.
Professionals and members of the public were both allocated specific search zones to concentrate on.
The search continues
A helicopter was also scrambled to the area, along with three fire engines.
A water safety unit, a specialist diving team and an inshore boat were all being used in the search.
Paramedics, a Hazardous Area Response Team, and the coastguard were also at the scene.
Search zone extended
In a 5pm briefing at Sandwich fire station - the meeting point for all those involved - searchers were told to look beyond Richborough Road and beyond the children's park at the Quay.
People were told to search the bushes and call out his name in case Lucas was able to pull himself out of the water.
Special attention paid to Richborough Road area
Particular attention was being paid to Richborough Road where the six-year-old was initially reported missing.
Two red Underwater Search and Recovery vans were stationed in a driveway in the road, thought to be just metres from where the Warden House Primary School pupil entered the water.
On the water, there were RNLI crews in dinghys and others rescuers in canoes. The Red Cross also supplied help.
In a field opposite was up to 20 emergency service vehicles, including police cars, fire engines and coastguard vans.
Search for Lucas Facebook page
A designated Facebook page was set up to provide updates to the community and for a place to organise food and donation distribution.
Public briefing - 7pm
Search for Lucas on Sunday night
Another briefing for local people helping in the search was held at Sandwich Fire Station at 7pm.
The fire and rescue team thanked everyone for the massive support in the search.
People advised to stop searching for the day - 10pm
Members of the public were advised to stop searching at 10pm, although police remained on the scene, and experienced search and rescue teams until lack of light prevented the search being possible.
Police admitted it is unlikely there will be a positive ending.
It is now day three of the search for Lucas.
More than 300 people have been helping fire fighters, police and the coastguards so far, with large numbers arriving at Sandwich fire station again this morning.
Public briefing at the fire station - 10am
A public meeting was held this morning to help people going forward with the search.
Detailed maps were handed out of different search areas.
Officers say he may have 'self-saved' and be lost in a field.
People were divided into teams of five.
Family issue videos of Lucas
The two clips show a happy, energetic six-year-old, dancing and having fun.
Businesses and local people continue to help out
Discovery Park has donated £200 towards food and drink for volunteers helping in the search.
The goods purchased from The Co-operative were delivered to St Mary's Art Centre at 12.20pm today.
Refreshments continue and essential items continue to be provided at St Mary's church.
Hundreds of local people have also donated food, torches, tissues and more.
One lady even gave someone the shoes off her feet when their shoe broke jumping from a wall during last night's search.
Emergency services thank people for their help so far
Superintendent Amanda Tillotson of Kent Police said: "I would once again like to thank those members of the public who are helping to search for Lucas.
"Everyone is working tirelessly to ensure we have every possibility covered.
"There has been an overwhelming response to the incident, with people coming to help from far and wide – including outside of our county.
"Lucas’ family have asked me to extend their sincere thanks to everyone who has and continues to help find him."
Candlelight vigils for Lucas
Hundreds of people gathered in the coastal towns for a candlelit vigil for Lucas.
All wearing red, his favourite colour, his mum bravely led hundreds of people to along Deal pier, supported by her family.
In Dover, Lucas name was made out of candles and in Sandwich, his dad Nathan thanked everyone for their support and said: “When you go home tonight, hold your child’s hand a little tighter and maybe Lucas will feel it.”
Lucas' auntie Maciee paid tribute to everyone who came to the vigil and said:"We will never give up on you Lucas you’re out there and we are going to find you and bring you home baby boy."
Police ask people to stop searching river
As the search moves in to its fourth day, Kent Police are concentrating their efforts to the river and asked people to stay away.
Chief Inspector Mark Weller of Kent Police said: "I speak on behalf of all the emergency services when I say thank you for the help we have received – the efforts and compassion of volunteers has been heart-warming and their value and help cannot be overstated.
"However, we are now at a stage where the river is our sole focus, given the time that has passed since Lucas disappeared.
"I don’t think the dangers of the water have been lost on anybody since the weekend and as difficult as it is for us to ask, we are requesting people stay away from physically helping us search the river. This is for their own safety as well as that of emergency service workers in the area.
"Once again, I thank everyone for their hard work and our thoughts are with Lucas’ family at this time."
Drone spotted over the river
At around 11.30am, a drone was seen hovering above the River Stour, about 200m downstream from where Lucas fell into the water.
It appeared to focus on one spot for around 30 seconds before moving along and was being operated by KFRS from an adjacent field.
Family organise search meeting
The family of missing Lucas Dobson are asking people to help them check the river.
The six year old’s uncle, Lewis Tolman, has announced on Facebook that the family held a meeting for volunteers at Sandwich Quay at 2pm.
They asked helpers to adopt a new approach - stand in one spot and watch the water - rather than traipsing up and down the river.
The community's support in the search for Lucas
Reverend Peter Ould says he is amazed by the outpouring of support he has witnessed
Police say volunteers have been 'absolutely amazing'
Interview with Ch Insp Mark Weller about search for Lucas Dobson
This evening, Ch Insp Weller spoke exclusively to the media and said everything volunteers had been doing in the search for Lucas had been "absolutely amazing".
He said: "I actually asked the family today, 'what more could we be doing for you?' and they said 'the support we've had from the community is enough, that is keeping us going at the moment'.
"They are going through an absolutely horrendous time.
"The family liaison officer is doing a superb job of looking after them as best she can, but more of the same please – the ask today was simply about public safety."
Fundraising page to help Lucas' family
A fundraising page has tripled it's original target for the family of missing Lucas Dobson.
In just two days £1,533 has been raised which will help the search continue across a larger area, according to the JustGiving page.
Body found in the search for Lucas
Kent Police has found a body during the search for six-year-old Lucas Dobson.
The body has not yet been formally identified as the Deal school boy but his family have been told.
Chief Inspector Mark Weller of Kent Police said: "This is a deeply tragic and upsetting incident for all concerned, and Lucas’ family are understandably devastated.
"We were inundated with offers of assistance from members of the public, who turned out in large numbers to help search for Lucas. I know his family are very grateful and touched by the support provided, and I too would like to offer my own personal thanks.
"I would also like to recognise the efforts of our partners from Kent Fire and Rescue Service, HM Coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and others who assisted in the search for Lucas."
More by this authorRebecca Tuffin
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