Toy car in canal leads to search, but no report of missing child

Published: Sunday, Sept. 23 2012 8:57 p.m. MDT

BLUFFDALE — Search and rescue crews called off a three-hour search of an irrigation canal Sunday which began with an anonymous call to the Bluffdale Fire Department. 

Rescue crews had been searching the canal following a call that came at about 2:30 p.m., indicating a child might be in the water. Lt. Justin Hoyal with Unified Police said a  multi-agency search, a reverse 911 call to nearby residents and door-to-door inquiries by officers turned up no reports of missing children.

The call that prompted the search went to the Bluffdale Fire Department and was answered by an on-duty firefighter. Hoyal said it was unclear whether the caller said she had seen a "child and a trike" near the water or just a "child's trike."

Capt. Jarred Rogers of the Bluffdale Fire Department said the call came from a woman on her way to a grocery store who had seen a child playing in the road near the canal, but was alarmed when there was no sign of the child on her return trip. Rogers said attempts to contact the woman after she hung up had failed.

The search was centered near a red four-wheeled toddler car that was found partially submerged in the canal, although the toy's broken condition indicated it may have been dumped there, Hoyal said. The car was not visible from 1300 West, but could have been seen from a dirt road running parallel to the canal.

Firefighters and officers from Bluffdale fire and police, Unified fire and police and the South Jordan fire department combed the canal near 1300 W. Ryanna Drive (13730 South), and a LifeFlight helicopter conducted a flyover, Hoyal said.

"If there is a possibility there is a child in the water, we're going to take that very seriously," Hoyal said.

Officers contacted the canal's owner and had the water level lowered about a foot to accommodate the search while officers searched the water by raft and with long poles as they waded through the canal.

Niki Kearns, a resident of nearby Bradbury Meadows, said officers had knocked on her door shortly before she returned home asking if everyone in the house was accounted for.

"There's a lot of kids, from the ages of probably 3 from 18, and there are kids who live around the corner," she said. "There's a lot of area, and this canal is full."

Kearns said she had contacted friends and neighbors, all of whom had their children safely at home.

E-mail: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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