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Truro, N.S., police say mannequin experiment provided ‘useful information’

Search and rescue crews launch a mannequin in the Salmon river on May 13, to track it's movements with the current.
Search and rescue crews launch a mannequin in the Salmon river on May 13, to track it's movements with the current. Alicia Draus / Global News

It was an innovative idea: using a mannequin roughly the same weight and size of a young boy who went missing to better understand what could have happened if he had ended up in the water.

Three-year-old Dylan Ehler was first reported missing around 1:15 p.m. on May 6.

He was with his grandmother, who has told authorities she turned around for just a moment, and then he was gone.

READ MORE: Police call off nearly weeklong search for missing Nova Scotia boy

Search and rescue crews combed the area in Truro where he went missing, and that night found two small blue boots along a brook that feeds into the Salmon River.

During the following days, the search focused largely on the brook and the river, and used canine teams, divers, a helicopter and searchers on foot.

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While the search was unsuccessful, searchers weren’t ready to give up, and came up with an idea to answer some of their linger questions — putting a mannequin into the river and seeing what happened.

“We were able to track some data and ground search and rescue were able to provide some mapping,” said Police Chief David MacNeil.

“It helped give us an idea of some areas potentially distance-wise how far we could expand the search, or look if it needs to start up again.”

The experiment took place a week after Dylan went missing, in order to best match the water conditions.

Click to play video 'Mannequin to be launched into Lepper Brook as part of search for boy in Truro, N.S.' Mannequin to be launched into Lepper Brook as part of search for boy in Truro, N.S.
Mannequin to be launched into Lepper Brook as part of search for boy in Truro, N.S – May 13, 2020

“The current and and stuff last Wednesday was really, really fast, even faster than yesterday, so we couldn’t replicate the exact speed and depth of the water,” said MacNeil.

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But even still, he said the experiment did provide some insight in areas that may require more attention.

“There’s a few spots where the river has some pretty deep pools in it so we just want to make sure those are searched really thoroughly.”

Those areas are near the Main Street bridge and behind the Stanfield factory. On Friday, divers will go out again to search the area, and search and rescue crews will also be deploying a side-scan sonar which will help detect if there are any anomalies in the water.

“We are willing to try anything that’s reasonable to locate Dylan,” said MacNeil.

As the search continues on Friday, police are also continuing their investigation into the missing persons case. MacNeil says so far there has been no evidence to indicate foul play, but they are not ruling anything out.