Day 4 of canal search leaves crews empty-handed

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Crews have bumped up their efforts to try and find the body of an 8-year-old boy who fell in a Salt Lake City canal on Saturday. They wrapped up their fourth day of searching just before 5 p.m. Tuesday and still have found no sign of Trejon Brown.

Earlier in the day, search crews employed cadaver dogs on their rafts. The dogs picked up on a few spots that crews spent hours investigating.

The Department of Public Safety also brought out a bigger boat with sonar, which they usually only use for lake searches. "We may start in some areas where there might be some potential or higher likelihood where he may be, but we're going to search the entire grid with this particular boat," said Lt. Don Hutson, spokesman for the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Later, the sheriff's office flew its helicopter low to blow back the brush on the river banks, and UDOT excavated a makeshift ramp to get the sonar boat into the water

They say the sonar system on this boat will be more efficient. "It's the same technology, produces the same image. However, it's constant, real-time and portable. We can literally drag it from the boat. It makes searching much more quick," Hutson said.

Search crews plan to be back at it Wednesday morning but say they will begin to scale back their efforts.

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake City public utilities department has claimed ownership of the pipe Trejon was crossing when he fell in. Officials now say it's time for some major changes.

The water pipeline stretches across Salt Lake County's surplus canal. The pipe belongs to Salt Lake City public utilities. There are no warning signs and no fences around it.

Deputy Director Tom Ward says he had no idea kids played on it, but people who grew up in the area say the water has been a temptation to children for a long time.

Cathie Chansamone says she remembers trying to cross the water on other pipelines as a child. "My mother threatened us with our lives," she says. "If the water didn't kill us, she would."

Chansamone says in the 80s, the banks were reinforced to better control flooding around the canal, and it was made much deeper. But there was also a fence.

"When they started the new development there, probably in the last 10 years, I noticed they flattened it out, they evened it out and made it a lot easier to get to," she said.

Some neighborhoods border the canal. Typically, there are fences in areas of new development, but there are also open areas. There's even an unofficial pathway on the canal's east side. Chansamone says she was afraid something like this would happen. "Just because it's a temptation," she said.

Now, Salt Lake public utilities plans to take steps to prevent another tragedy. "Certainly we are looking at that, absolutely. We have to change something, and we are going to look at that," Ward said.

He says as soon as the authorities' caution tape comes down, signs or fences will go up. "We're looking at, are there other locations we weren't aware of before that are problems potentially," he added.

Ward says education of water danger is key as well.


Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales, Mary Richards and Marc Giauque.

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