Reporting Beth Germano
ROCKPORT (CBS) – State Police say divers will be back Friday morning in the search for Caleigh Harrison, the two and a half year old girl who suddenly disappeared at Long Beach in Rockport.
Choppy seas forced divers out of the water at 7:00 p.m. Thursday night, though police kept patrols along the shoreline. An intense search by air, water and land continued for hours with no sign of the girl who was playing ball on the beach with her mother and four year old sister.
Police say the ball went over a seawall and when the mother went to retrieve it, she turned and her daughter was gone. “In just a couple of minutes she was no longer standing with her sister,” said Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio. But the question is what happened next.
Police have not ruled out foul play, and have searched homes along the beach. But with the search focused so intensively on the water, the concern is she was swept away. Police say she was playing near a swollen creek that feeds into the ocean and the tide was going out at the time. “It empties out quickly,” said Rockport police chief John McCarthy. “If someone was in the water they could easily be swept away.
Patrols went back and forth in a three quarter mile area for hours with help from three Coast Guard vessels, a Coast Guard helicopter, and State Police and local teams. Choppy seas with 10 to 12 foot waves made it difficult for divers.
A Coast Guard boat will continue to search overnight.
Residents in the area also came to the beach to help. “We came down to look around because she could be anywhere, anywhere,” said Bruce Ercolani who came to the beach with his son. It happened in a split second and no one wants to give up hope for the little girl whose hope was to spend a spring day at the beach.
“My heart hurts,” her mother writes on her Facebook page as she thanks all the crews for their efforts. “We are still hopeful we’ll find my baby alive and well.”
Police say Caleigh was wearing a light pink shirt with darker pink shorts. She’s just under three feet tall weighing between 27 and 35 pounds with light brown hair.