Update - Sweetgrass Kennedy Recovery Efforts - May 17, 2018
Prince Albert, Sask. – A press conference was held at the Prince Albert Police Service this afternoon providing the media and public an update on the Sweetgrass Kennedy recovery efforts to date.
Four-year-old Sweetgrass Kennedy was reported missing to the Prince Albert Police Service at approximately 9 p.m. on Thursday May 10, 2018.
An exhaustive community search effort was conducted from Thursday evening until Friday evening involving Emergency Services and civilian searchers. The City of Prince Albert enacted their Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and coordinated volunteer search efforts on Friday.
Organizations involved in the Search and Rescue included:
-City of Prince Albert Departments,
-Prince Albert Grand Council’s (First Nations Emergency Management Branch)
-Government of Saskatchewan (Emergency Management and Fire Safety),
-Saskatoon Police Service - Air Support Operations,
-Professional Search and Rescue Teams (Prince Albert North Search and Rescue,
-Buckland Search and Rescue,
-Saskatoon Region Search and Rescue)
An operational contact point was established at East End Community Hall that served as place to develop a structured ground search.
As the search continued, the police investigative efforts also continued.
By Friday afternoon the Prince Albert Police Service received a tip indicating that a witness observed children playing on the riverbank in the 800 block of River Street east, only blocks away from the child's residence.
"Through witness testimony the Prince Albert Police Service determined that Sweetgrass was one of the children observed on the riverbank and that he fell into the water from which he did not recover," said Prince Albert Police Service Inspector Stonechild during the media conference.
Once this was confirmed through multiple first-hand witness observations in addition to physical evidence, it was determined by the Incident Command post to discontinue civilian Search and Rescue efforts and focus all resources on the river.
The ground search was transitioned to a river search of the North Saskatchewan River to locate the child.
The Saskatoon Police Service Air Support was utilized to conduct an aerial search 60 kilometres downstream in addition to relying on professional search and recover teams provided by the PAGC.
On Saturday May 12, the search continued, with a focus on the river. At this point Search and Rescue teams utilized sonar technology and professionally trained individuals from the Grandmother's Bay Search and Recovery Team in addition to the Stanley Mission Search, Rescue and Recovery team.
“During this difficult ordeal [for the family of Sweetgrass Kennedy], we felt it was important to support the search efforts of the Prince Albert Police Service by involving Saskatchewan First Nations Emergency Management to facilitate the support of search experts from Grandmother’s Bay and Stanley Mission,” said Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.
“Each of the teams bring special skill sets to the operation, along with high-tech equipment, such as a remotely operated underwater vehicle, and I am pleased by how we have all been able to come together and effectively work with one another toward this common goal.”
"SARSAV was pleased to be tasked to assist in the recent search efforts for Sweetgrass Kennedy and to work within a multi-agency command structure. Our continued hope is for a positive outcome of the ongoing search efforts and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and community affected," said President of Saskatoon Search and Rescue and member of the Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers Shelley Ballard-McKinley.
These individuals guided local agencies which included:
-Prince Albert Fire Department
-The Government of Saskatchewan (Emergency Management and Fire Safety),
-And the Prince Albert Police Service
Over the weekend into Monday, the Saskatoon Fire Department Dive Search and Rescue team was brought in who focused on an area that was within 300 meters of where Sweetgrass fell into the river. The child was not recovered.
"Moving forward the Prince Albert Police Service will continue to work closely with PAGC’s Search and Rescue teams and other emergency response agencies in recovery efforts," said Inspector Stonechild.