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Police end search for missing toddler in Rockport

Lisa Poole for The Boston Globe

Anthony Harrison and Allison Hammond thanked officials for their efforts in the search for their daughter.

State Police divers have halted the search for missing 2-year-old Caleigh Anne Harrison, the toddler from Gloucester who went missing a week ago while visiting Long Beach with her mother, her 4-year-old sister and the family dog.

After a week of searches using helicopters, vessels, divers, canine units, side-scan sonar, and all-terrain vehicles, police came up with no clues or leads on the girl’s whereabouts. No new searches will be conducted unless new clues or information are uncovered, State Police spokesman David Procopio said today.

Caleigh Anne Harrison disappeared last Thursday.

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Though clear skies and calm waters made for excellent visibility in the water today, Procopio said, the two dive searches between 7 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. did not yield any clues. The results of the searches have been frustrating, he said.

“All we wanted to do was bring Callie home to her family so they can take any consolation that they can find from that,” Procopio said. “We have not been able to do that so far.”

He estimated that search crews had covered five miles of ocean over the course of the last week.

Harrison’s grieving family held out hope on Wednesday that she was still alive. They speculated that she had been abducted, rather than swept into the sea.

“We think we would have found something by now,’’ said the girl’s uncle, David Harrison Jr., speaking at a press conference at his Gloucester home Wednesday afternoon. “And that gives us a little bit of hope, because if she is somewhere else, we have a chance of finding her.’’

Procopio said there is no evidence that an abduction or criminal action took place.

“We have assured the family that if even a shred of information arises to suggest otherwise, we would follow it up thoroughly,” Procopio said.

He explained that many factors could have made it difficult for dive teams to find a person or evidence in the water: Tidal and offshore currents can often go in different directions, making it difficult to predict where a person or object would be carried — even with consultation from local harbormasters and fishermen.

“The study of the currents is not an exact science,” Procopio said. “We make best guesses and best estimates based on knowledge that we have.”

Rough seas kick up silt and sand, reducing visibility for divers. And because Rockport juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, it is less likely that a person or evidence in the water would stay in one area.

“You’re dealing with the ocean, a wide-open ocean, not a protected inlet or bay,” Procopio said. “It’s not a sheltered body of water, and that makes it difficult.”

Procopio said officials discussed last Thursday afternoon whether they could send out an AMBER Alert — a bulletin urging people look out for an abducted child — but they realized Caleigh’s case did not fit the criteria for an alert because there was no description of a suspect or a vehicle in which she may have been traveling.

He urged anyone with potential information in the case to contact Rockport police.

Martine Powers may be reached at mpowers@globe.com.
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