Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Sheriff: ‘The dogs have told us that Robert was there’
Related: FEEDING THE SEARCHERS
UPDATE: (4:27 p.m.) More from Hanover and the search for Robbie: 10 to 15 dog teams, along with other searchers will continue searching overnight. At night, the weather is better for the dogs and searchers specially trained to pick up on sounds and reflections will participate. **Citizen volunteers are needed again tomorrow morning*** – 7 a.m. for pros/firefighters/etc. and 9 a.m. for everyone else. Go to Kings Dominion’s main parking lot.
Robbie, who as you know is autistic, apparently likes to climb trees, so that’s a complication as well. Searchers are concentrating on a 2.5 mile area where they believe there’s a 75 percent chance that Robbie is.
Search organizer say it’s possible Robbie could have traveled up to 9.5 miles, but feel confident he’s in the main area they are concentrating on.
2:23 p.m.Volunteers will be accepted again at 9 tomorrow morning. Professionals – firefighters, etc., can come at 7 a.m. Kings Dominion parking lot again.
1:58 p.m. About the searching – Portsia Smith went on a one-hour guided search with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office on what was considered an easy trail in the area of the park. She described the area as rocky, full of holes and difficult to navigate. “The area is like the worst-case scenario for a little boy to get lost.”
Along the way, she ran into a search team with Milly, a bloodhound who verified the scent of Robbie that another dog found last night along a vertical embankment by the North Anna River.
Searchers also have dropped survivor packs along the area – food, water, blankets. No indication any have been picked up.
12:09 p.m. - Few more details from Hanover: VOLUNTEERS should arrive by around 2. They stopped registering new volunteers at 2:30 yesterday. Must be able to handle walking miles through difficult terrain. Also, search authorities worked through DEQ to reduce water flow into the North Anna River earlier this week and the river was at least a foot lower Tuesday than it was on Monday. It’s not clear how deep the river generally is. Today’s press conference will be at 3:30.
10:55 a.m. – Dog scents have taken police to the North Anna River. Thats the only area the dogs have alerted and tracked his scent.
Mental health officials have been with the family. They appreciate all the efforts that have been extended to help find their child.
Searchers hope to assign 1,200 volunteers to help today, but still need 500 more volunteers. Anyone who can help is asked to report to the main parking lot Kings Dominion.
(Editor’s note: We’ll continue to update this file and post updates on the fredericksburg.com facebook page.)
More volunteers will be accepted Wednesday to help in the search of an autistic Caroline County boy who has been missing since Sunday afternoon.
More than 1,000 people from across the state showed up at Kings Dominion Tuesday to help in the search for 9-year-old Robert “Robbie” or “Bud” Wood Jr. Authorities said 889 of those were registered, trained and deployed on search assignments.
Hanover County Sheriff David Hines said about 2,000 acres in the wooded areas of North Anna Battlefield Park in Doswell have been searched so far and they will keep searching until they find the boy.
“Like everyone else here today, our hearts are burdened with the reality that a 9-year-old boy has been alone in the woods for the last 48 hours,” Hines said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “I can assure you, everyone has and will continue to work tirelessly until Robert is located.”
The Hanover County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 2:43 p.m. Sunday about a missing child.
Robert A. Wood Sr. said he was walking along a trail in the park with his two autistic sons and his girlfriend when the oldest boy wandered off and ran into the woods around 2 p.m. He told police that he tried to chase after him, but eventually lost sight of him.
Robbie was last seen at the end of the trail close to the North Anna River, Hines said.
The terrain in that area is particularly rugged with many ravines, brush, briars and valleys.
Hines said Robbie has “extrmemely limited communication skills and absolutely no awareness of personal safety concerns.”
The boy’s challenges have made the search more difficult than usual because he doesn’t talk and only communicates by screaming or squealing. In fact, loud noises, like helicopters or strangers calling his name, may scare him or cause him to hide, authorities have said.
Resources from across the region have been used in trying to locate him, which include bloodhounds, aerial thermal imaging, dive teams and foot searches, Hines said.
Although Robbie has not been found yet, Hines said his “confidence is high” that Robbie was in that park.
“The dogs have told us that Robert was there. We’re still looking. We’re doing tracks. We’re backtracking and putting efforts back in where we were yesterday,” he said. “By all indications, Robert was in that park where he was last seen.”
Hines took a moment to thank the community for all the support that has been received from all across the region. But he also wanted people to remember the family.
“We should not forget Robert’s family who has been here with us since Sunday. They’ve fully cooperated with all of our inquiries. Any suggestion otherwise is simply not true,” Hines said. “This experience is heart-wrenching for all of us. I could not imagine their level of distress.”
More than 100 concerned neighbors gathered Tuesday night at the Doswell Community Center for a candlelight vigil in Robbie’s honor and prayed for his safe return home.
Hanover resident Denise Powell, who lives five miles from where Robbie was last seen, organized the event Tuesday morning as a way to contribute.
“I wanted to do something and didn’t know what to do,” she said because her work schedule conflicted with the search times.
Efforts to find Robbie have been continuous for 24 hours straight since Sunday, Hines said.
Those wanting to volunteer Wednesday should arrive properly dressed and prepared to walk for five miles. Returning volunteers with proper credentials will be quickly given an assignment without the long wait like today.
Some volunteers were turned away. For example those who were wearing shorts or have a health condition like diabeties were not allowed to search. A few volunteers that participated in the search needed medical attention due to the strenuous activity, police said.