Walpole: Police reveal missing boy fell out of boat during Fernhook Falls family camping trip

Ben Loughran & Jakeb WaddellManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Great Southern superintendent Kim Travers.
Camera IconGreat Southern superintendent Kim Travers. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

The eight-year-old boy police are desperately searching for in the South West is believed to have fallen out of a boat during a family camping trip.

The missing child, who is from the Great Southern region, had been with his family at Fernhook Falls, about 35km north of Walpole, before he was reported missing at about 9am yesterday morning.

Great Southern Superintendent Kim Travers said yesterday the boy had been involved in a boating incident during the camping trip at the well-known spot, which is known for its fast-flowing creeks and rivers.

Police and about 60 SES volunteers have since searched an area about 200m in length.

Supt. Travers said the rapids in the area were of interest to police, who were making the necessary risk assessments to safely continue the search.

She said the incident was still being treated as a search and rescue mission.

“The search effort is continuing, we will have our police divers continue to search in the water,” she said.

An eight-year-old boy has been missing for over 24 hours after camping with his family at Fernhook Falls, north of Walpole over the weekend.
Camera IconAn eight-year-old boy has been missing for over 24 hours after camping with his family at Fernhook Falls, north of Walpole over the weekend. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

“The SES have also got a boat doing the banks of the large pool area below the rapids and that will continue.

“We have got no plans at this stage at all other than to continue the search.”

A police drone is also expected to be used by this afternoon, pending weather conditions.

Supt. Travers said the family of the boy were shocked and anxious.

SES and police from the region were searching the falls and lagoon today.
Camera IconSES and police from the region were searching the falls and lagoon today. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

“The family are shocked… they are anxious and wanting us to find their boy,” she said.

“They have a great deal of support here and they have other family that will join them shortly.”

Supt. Travers said it was encouraging to see such a large number of community members had offer to assist, but the search was already adequately resourced by trained experts.

The search party involving police, SES volunteers and police air-wing was launched yesterday and suspended at about 7.30pm last night, before starting up again at sunrise.

The area near where the boy went missing.
Camera IconThe area near where the boy went missing. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

Supt. Travers said the family were familiar with the area, which was a common spot for them to camp.

“They are from the regions so they know this area,” she said.

“The family are with friends… they went on a camping weekend, it is the last weekend before school starts again.”

SES workers searching the falls and lagoon today.
Camera IconSES workers searching the falls and lagoon today. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

She said although the instinctive reaction to a child going missing is for a parent to throw themselves “hells bells” into the search, they had placed their trust in authorities.

“Suffice to say, the dad has told me this afternoon that he has great trust in the people that are searching for their son, great trust,” she said.

The search will continue on Tuesday at first light.

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