Crews continue search for missing 5-year-old boy in Salem - KPTV - FOX 12

Crews continue search for missing 5-year-old boy in Salem

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Allen "Chaz" Pearson (Courtesy: Salem Police Department) Allen "Chaz" Pearson (Courtesy: Salem Police Department)
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

Search and rescue crews are still looking for a 5-year-old Salem boy after he went missing Friday night at Wallace Marine Park.

The Salem Police Department said Allen “Chaz” Pearson was last seen playing with other children near the water’s edge around 5:30 p.m. Friday right before he went missing.

Family members gathered back at the park Saturday waiting for any update from search crews.

“My heart breaks because what do you do? And where do you look?” said Keni Slane, who was walking along the water Friday night.

Locals say the section of the Willamette River where the boy went missing has a fast current. In late June, an 11-year-old went missing in the same spot on the Willamette River.

Slane recommends wearing a life jacket. 

“The currents in this river are very, very swift. They may look calm but they’re not calm,” Slane said.

Salem locals say the river can be deceiving. A shallow walk to the sand bar leads to a deep drop off.

“I would say that the water areas have gotten more rough over the years because the channel’s have kind of changed in size,” said Suzan Johnson, who has lived in Salem off and on and is familiar with the park. “We just seem to have more of these mishaps of drownings every summer. It’s so disturbing and sad for the families.”

Search and rescue crews are not eliminating any possibilities. They haven’t said for sure if the boy is in the water.

Salem locals say they wonder if something needs to be done to increase safety along this stretch of the Willamette River.

“It’s getting too often and it’s getting very close to home and that’s even more scary,” said Slane.

Some people say there should be life jackets near this unused boat ramp like there once was.

Mark Becktel, the Salem Public Works operations manager, says it’s a popular place to wade and launch kayaks and canoes. He says with two incidents in the last month and a half, Salem might have to consider limiting the area to the public.

Pearson is about 4 feet tall and 50 pounds, with dark hair in a small tail on the back of his head. Police said he was wearing green and camo shorts.

If you have seen Pearson or have any information about where he could be, call Salem Police.

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