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Still no sign of Salem boy last seen at Wallace Marine Park Friday night

Allen Chaz Pearson

A Salem boy is still missing more than 24 hours after he disappeared while playing near the water at Wallace Marine Park Friday evening.

Salem police say Allen “Chaz” Pearson, 5, was playing on the shoreline with some friends at the time, but no one saw where he went. He was last seen playing on a sandbar underneath the pedestrian bridge.

Search and Rescue crews from several local agencies helped in the search effort which resumed at about 7 a.m. Saturday, including volunteers from Mountain Wave and Red Cross. Close to 100 people were involved with the search Saturday.

Lt. Richard Bittick says they covered an area from about one mile south of the park to nearly three miles to the north. Deputies and volunteers split their time on land and water because they do not know exactly where the boy went.

“If we had a credible account that he was in the water, then we could focus primarily on water resources, we don't have that credible account so we're searching land and water,” said Lt. Bittick. “We have air resources up. We have fixed wing aircraft from civil air patrol. We don't have any direction of travel, we don't have land or water, so we are just having to hit everything.”

If the boy drowned, it would make it the fourth drowning this week KATU has covered in Oregon. This would also be the second drowning at Wallace Marine Park this year. In June, a boy drowned in nearly this exact same location. Lt. Bittick says the water there can be deceiving.

“It's very quick current, it's very deep, and if you got caught in that current it would be very difficult, certainly couldn't swim against it,” said Lt. Bittick.

The boy’s family did not want to comment on the search Saturday, but they do have a tight-knit community that is offering support. A few dozen members of the Oregon Marshallese Community came to the park Saturday during the search. The community of about 3,000 in Oregon have ties to the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. They held a community prayer at the park Saturday night.

“Thoughts and prayers are with the family,” said Robert Anjain, president of the Marshallese community.

“I met this little kid, very cute kid,” said Blaise Kiluwe, also a member of the community who came to show support. “I imagine myself, what if it was me? I wouldn't know what to do.”

Lt. Bittick says they will resume the search again on Sunday.

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