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Crews call off search in river for 4-year-old

Rescue crews have stopped their search for the body of 4-year-old Josue Peralez, who fell into the Jordan River while playing at Winchester Park in Murray Friday morning.

After more than 14 hours of dragging the river, the unsuccessful search was called off at 3 p.m. Saturday when the weather turned bad, Murray Police Lt. Dee Rowland said."At this point, it doesn't make sense to continue. We're through," Rowland said. "We'll assign officers to portions of the river and keep an eye on the banks, but we won't do more of this kind of thorough searching.

Volunteer search and rescue workers from the Salt Lake County sheriff's office spent eight hours dragging the river Friday and another six hours on Saturday.

They combed the banks on foot and were afloat in rubber boats poking and prodding the rocky river bottom with 12-foot metal poles between Washington Park (6400 South) and 3900 South, but there was never any sign of the Midvale boy's body, Rowland said.

Rescuers thought they had a chance at finding the boy late Friday night when something pink was spotted in the river near the 3900 South bridge, where a metal barrier has been set up to trap large debris. But when they got down to the water and the pink object, it turned out to be a discarded bean bag chair, Rowland said.

The boy's body could be caught in the brush and rocks on the river bottom, or could have been washed much farther downstream by the swift, 10 mph current, Rowland said.

"There's a chance it will never be found," he said. "It's anybody's guess."

Peralez was feeding ducks and playing by a concrete canoe launch at 10:30 a.m. Friday with his mother, Leticia Peralez, his brother, Caesar, 5, and a friend of his mother's. The boys stayed by the river while their mother walked up to the public restroom. That's when Josue Peralez fell into the river. Caesar Peralez said his brother had fallen, "went swimming" for a little bit and then went under the water.

A woman jogger who was nearby ran from the park playground to Winchester Street and flagged down a motorist with a cell phone, who called for help.

By 11:30 a.m. Friday, police had closed the park entrance to the public and a search was in full swing.

But Saturday morning runners, walkers and bikers were again making their way along the busy Jordan River Parkway trail that winds along the river through some of Murray's newer residential areas.

Ritva Goodlowe lives along the river and walks the parkway daily, often pausing along the river bank to enjoy the sight and the sound of the moving river and its wildlife.

On Saturday, she found herself carefully scanning the banks for a sign of Josue Peralez.

"I am thinking about him. I am thinking about his mother. It is so sad," she said, turning her walking stick in her hand. "I am hoping I would see him for her sake. But the river right now is so deep, so high, so swift, he could be anywhere."