Search continues for 5-year-old boy swept away by floodwaters in storm-hit California

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office

(NEW YORK) — More than 100 National Guard troops have been deployed to help with the search for a young boy who was swept away by raging floodwaters in central California on Monday morning.

The “first wave” of troops arrived Wednesday and “more” will be arriving Thursday “to assist with the search as conditions permit,” according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

The missing child — identified as 5-year-old Kyle Doan — was traveling in a truck with his mother when their vehicle became stranded in floodwaters just before 8 a.m. local time near San Miguel, a small town inland from California’s central coastline. Bystanders were able to rescue the mother but floodwaters swept the boy out of the truck and downstream, authorities said. There was no evacuation order in the area at that time.

At approximately 3 p.m. local time, an underwater search and rescue team was forced to call off their efforts after several hours “because the extreme weather conditions became too unsafe for first responders,” according to San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tony Cipolla.

An unrelenting series of powerful storms wielding torrential rain, heavy snow and gusty winds have walloped California over the past week and are expected to continue to do so until Jan. 18. At least 17 people have died in the state due to the recent stormy weather, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

A break in the powerful storms allowed the search to resume Tuesday morning, though authorities warned that the conditions “remain extremely dangerous.”

“The water level is high and continues to be fast-moving,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Tuesday. “The public is strongly cautioned not to conduct self-initiated searches and put themselves in harm’s way and become a victim requiring resources that would otherwise be used for searching.”

Search operations were conducted for most of Tuesday, utilizing various resources, including the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s search and rescue team, underwater search and rescue team, drone team, deputies, detectives and air operations.

On Wednesday, other local law enforcement agencies pitched in, providing dive team members, search and rescue team members and K9 units from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, as well as personnel with sonar equipment from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office. Approximately 80 personnel were involved in the search operations that day.

“Search efforts will continue the rest of the day and will continue tomorrow as well if warranted,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.

Kyle Doan is a kindergartener at Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel. His mother, Lindsy Doan, is a teacher at the same school, according to San Miguel Joint Union School District Superintendent Karen Grandoli.

“San Miguel is a small, very close-knit community and everyone has the family in their thoughts and prayers during this unfathomable tragedy,” Grandoli told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday. “The family is continuing to search for him in hopes that he might be found. Staff is beginning to organize support for the family. We are determining what their immediate needs are at this time. The school will have counselors on campus to support students and staff as soon as the school reopens which will hopefully be tomorrow. Like most districts in San Luis Obispo County, we are closed today due to the severe weather and dangerous road conditions.”

The missing boy, whom authorities have not declared dead, is described as having short dirty blond hair and hazel eyes. He is 4 feet tall and weighs 52 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black puffer jacket with a red liner, blue jeans and blue and gray Nike sneakers, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

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