Teams of rescuers are searching for Luke ShambrookRescue, SES and members of the public are still searching for 11 year old Luke Shambrook who went missing (around 9:30am Good Friday ) from the Candlebark camping ground in Fraser National Park, Lake Eildon. Photo by Penny Stephens. The Age. 4TH APRIL 2015 Photo: Penny StephensPolice and campers continue to frantically scour the vast and thick scrub in a national park near Lake Eildon for 11-year-old Luke Shambrook who has been missing since 9.30am on Friday.
The search is made more difficult because young Luke may not want to be found. He has autism, limited speech and a habit of hiding.
“He may not even know he is lost,” said Sergeant Greg Paul, leading the search effort in the Fraser National Park.
“He won’t necessary respond to searchers … he may not necessarily respond to being called. That may change a bit as he gets hungry. We don’t know whether he’s curled up sleeping somewhere, or whether he’s hiding.”
About 60 police, SES officers and professional search and rescue personnel are taking part in the search, along with more than 50 campers taking time from out their Easter holidays.
But even searching is nigh on impossible. The tea tree grows thick around Lake Eildon’s Candlebark Campground, where Luke was last spotted on Friday morning. His family were camping nearby.
The searchers all but disappear into the scrub, the only trace little blue ribbons to mark areas already searched. Luke is a needle in the tea tree.
It dropped to about 8 degrees overnight, but Luke was dressed warmly and searchers say it’s likely he survived the night. They are more concerned about the water – Luke is fascinated by it but unable to swim.
“It was pretty cold last night, but not life-threatening cold,” said Sergeant Paul.
“Luke was last seen wearing a jacket, he had a beanie with him. The daytime temp up here has been fairly warm. Obviously he’d be hungry and cold by now.”
The Shambrook family released a statement on Saturday afternoon thanking campers for their efforts to find their son.
“[We] are very grateful for the diligence and huge effort put in by all emergency units, volunteers, family and friends in searching for Luke. Our thanks to everyone for their ongoing prayers and support,” the statement read.
Police have been inundated with offers to help, with many people who aren’t even camping nearby driving into the Fraser National Park to aid the search. It is believed the Shambrook extended family are regular visitors to the area.
One camper said so many people in the area knew Luke that when the news broke campsites were quickly deserted as people rushed to join the search.
“He has been walking in the area before … but we’re not sure how much he’d recall from his previous walks,” Sergeant Paul said.
A police helicopter spent much of Saturday scouring the bushland with an infrared camera, hoping to pick up Luke’s heat signatures, while the police dog squad searches for his scent.
State Emergency Service crews and water police have been combing the lake’s shores. Another camper said the lake was at quite a low level, so it was unlikely someone would have fallen in – Luke would have had to wade through a fair bit of mud to get to the waterline.
Police scuba teams have also been sent to scour holes, gullies and water tanks in the national park in case Luke is hiding inside, while campers are being asked to check their tents.
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