The search for a missing toddler in rural Manitoba is stretching into its second night.
RCMP Sgt. Bert Paquet says Chase Martens was last seen at 6 p.m. Tuesday playing outside near his home in the Austin area.
“We’re talking as far as I know of a little two-year-old boy that is out playing and is all of a sudden not there anymore.”
Hundreds of searchers, including RCMP, the Winnipeg police helicopter, the Austin Fire Department and volunteers from the community, spent Tuesday looking for him.
Tricia MacDonald is among them.
“I’m a mom and there’s a little boy out there that probably isn’t wearing much of anything. He was playing and the next thing you know he’s gone,” she said. “It happens so quick.”
Most volunteers have gone home for the night, save for a select few that are trained in search and rescue, but the RCMP still has all available resources on scene.
All available #rcmpmb resources remain on scene and will continue to search through the night for Chase MARTENS.
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) March 24, 2016
Chase was playing in his rubber boots that light up as he walks. He had on a blue jacket, black splash pants and a red hat. The temperature fell to -12 C overnight and will drop to -8 tonight.
Paquet says right now RCMP are considering all possibilities. It’s too early to speculate whether foul play could be involved.
680 CJOB’s Keith McCullough was at Chase’s house Tuesday morning. He says volunteers from the area came in with trucks, ATVs and even horses to help.
“The mood is somber, but hopeful. Not a lot of words being exchanged other than searchers telling each other where they should head. There’s a Hutterite choir here that has been singing hymns. There are tables set up with coffee and food for the searchers. Some searchers here even taking naps, many of them have been out throughout the night looking for Chase,” he said.
Wanda Thomas, a great-aunt to Chase, told Global News Winnipeg, “We just want to find him alive.” “I can’t imagine him spending the night out there by himself and it was cold”
RCMP note they don’t need any more searchers, but they are asking you to continue to share his photo.
If you are traveling near Highway 34 and Austin, police are asking you to keep your eyes open for him.
He is described as 2.5 feet tall, 30 lbs, blue eyes, light brown hair.
Sgt. Paquet says the other thing you can do: “Pray.”
MacDonald says she’s been thinking about Chase’s family as she looks for any sign of the little boy.
“If I could just hug them all right now. It just lays heavy on your heart. You just want to tell them that everything is good and we’re all praying for you. The good Lord’s got it all under control and he’ll guide the workers to where they need to go,” she said. “Miracles happen.”