UPDATE 5:50 p.m. Rescue crews have shifted their searching efforts, getting out of boats and on to shore. They now walk the banks of Mud Brook looking for any sign of Nicholas Shaffer.
News Channel 5 reports that The Ohio State Highway Patrol has sent a helicopter to the area to help in the search.
UPDATE 2:06 p.m. The search is now officially recovery but water response teams are hoping for a miracle they will be able to find Nicholas Shaffer today. They are combing the Mud Brook waterway he disappeared in Thursday evening with ropes used to stablize their boats against the still-swift current of the tributary carrying floodwaters into the Cuyahoga River near the Timber Top Apartment complex on Portage Trail.
AkronNewsNow's Mike Ward reports crews are searching by a grid system, in 200-foot increments, and using long poles to probe the bottom of the brook. The current, while diminished from last night's dangerous rapids, is still much too fast to allow divers to conduct a visual or hand-search along the banks of the normally low-level and peaceful stream. Photo at left by Mike Ward/AkronNewsNow.
12:49 p.m. Water rescue crews specially trained in "swift water" rescue techniques are now treating Mud Brook and sections downriver along the Cuyahoga River in the Merriman Valley as a grid, in a search and recovery operation to find 12-year old Nicholas Shaffer.
"It's a very time consuming process," says Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department Captain Rob Campbell. "With the fast moving current and unknown terrain below, it's not safe to put divers in that environment." Crews are using poles to probe the river bank and river bottom, using rope lines to control their boats and going back and forth along the waterway to examine every foot in hopes of locating Shaffer, who disappeared Thursday night in the swift waters.
Fire Department crews taking part in the operation are now officially treated the mission as one of recovery, not rescue.
Rescue crews are still hoping for a miracle, and not just a recovery mission, finding 12-year old Nicholas Shaffer after their search for the missing boy had to be called off Thursday evening because of darkness. But they are realistic.
More than a dozen water rescue teams from across the region massed along Mud Brook and the Cuyahoga River near Timber Top Apartments after 5:30 last night when Shaffer slipped into the waters of the rain-swollen brook while watching the fast current and high waters with his mother and brother.
Teams from as far away as Macedonia and Green joined with other department, including Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, in the search. They met this morning at 8:30 at the Akron Fire Department Station 11 to renew their efforts.
Family members told authorities Nicholas, who is autistic and reportedly can't swim, was dipping his feet into the brook when he suddenly jumped off the retaining wall he was sitting on into the water. His mother quickly jumped in but was overcome by the quick current and couldn't get her son to safety. Neighbors heard the brother's screams; three people also jumped into the water but other than seeing Nicholas' head in the water were unable to spot the boy.
Rescue teams used five search boats last night, expanding their work to a five-mile stretch of waterway before the sun set and they were unable to continue their work. Rescue teams began gathering at the Valley fire station this morning to resume their mission.
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