ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) – Police called divers and the coroner to a canal in eastern Pennsylvania on Saturday as they searched for a 5-year-old autistic boy who wandered away from a New Year’s Eve party without shoes or a coat.
Police summoned the divers after a searcher found a tablet computer similar to one Jayliel Vega Batista was believed to be playing with before he disappeared Thursday night, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported.
Thurman Clark, 25, a searcher, told the newspaper he found the device shortly after joining other searchers at Allentown’s Canal Park about 1 p.m. “I really hope it’s not his,” Clark told the newspaper.
Police have declined to comment on the find, though they summoned divers to Canal Park shortly afterward, the newspaper reported.
Allentown police and the Lehigh County coroner’s office did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking details about the developments.
But earlier in the day, police Capt. Glen Dorney said 20 search-and-rescue dog teams were looking for Jayliel and crews were recanvassing his neighborhood.
The boy was downstairs playing with a tablet with some other children when he left the home at about 10:30 p.m. Friday. The boy was visiting his great-aunt’s home for the holiday, and left barefoot and without any kind of outerwear, police said.
Police were going door-to-door in the boy’s neighborhood again on Saturday because efforts to track him into nearby woods were unsuccessful. Police also said a glut of volunteer searchers was complicating efforts to find the boy.
“We’re proud of them for stepping up in the force that they’ve done,” Dorney said, but there were so many volunteers in the woods and elsewhere, it was compromising the ability of the dogs and others to locate the boy.
Instead, police asked people who live in the area to thoroughly search their own property and parked cars periodically, in case the boy comes wandering in search of shelter. Police checked out a home at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday after someone thought they saw the boy’s face in an upstairs window but said the boy wasn’t there.
Police were especially concerned because temperatures were near freezing overnight and forecast to hit only the high 30s on Saturday.
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