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UPDATE: Walnut Creek is focus of search for Ryan Larsen

Posted at 7:58 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-22 03:24:06-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — 10 p.m. Friday 5/21:
Below is the latest release from the La Vista Police Dept.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday May 21, 2021

Law enforcement teams focus on Walnut Creek in day five of search for Ryan Larsen

The La Vista Police Department, in partnership with numerous local, state and federal agencies, continues to search for 11-year old Ryan Larsen. Ryan, who has autism, has not been seen since Monday, May 17.

Here are they key points from Friday’s search efforts:

  • Teams from Sarpy County Search & Rescue, the Nebraska State Patrol, Omaha Fire & Rescue, Yutan and Des Moines have all joined the search for Ryan at Walnut Creek Recreation Area. These agencies have offered divers, boats, high-tech equipment, and tracking K9s.
  • Crews have searched multiple bodies of water in the La Vista/Papillion area. They began searching Walnut Creek because Ryan and his family had visited there, and Ryan had wandered off before while visiting Walnut Creek.
  • Once at Walnut Creek, a police K9 picked up a scent. This scent may be animal, human or otherwise. Crews will continue to search both land and water there until they can find Ryan or rule out him being there. This is a vast area with extensive area to cover; with that, law enforcement ask the public to find an alternate path or recreation area to use Friday evening and Saturday, allowing K9 search units and investigators to focus on this area and continue to search for Ryan.

As we move into the weekend, we ask all metro area residents to continue to be alert. The La Vista Police Department uses an app to gather tips and suggestions: See It, Say It, Send It. This free app filters directly to investigators searching for Ryan. The app is available on the Apple Store and Google Play; you can find more information about the app here: https://www.seeandsend.info/ [seeandsend.info]

We will continue to provide updates on the search for Ryan Larsen throughout the weekend via the La Vista Police Twitter account: @lavistapolice. Thank you to our entire community and our dedicated network of law enforcement professionals who continue to work to bring Ryan home.

3 p.m.

The search for 11-year-old Ryan Larsen is continuing today in the Walnut Creek area based on a possible lead that was developed on Wednesday. Officials wouldn’t provide more on the lead but they did say Larsen had been to the area before.

The efforts are focused on waterways at the park and will take some time compared to the body of water at the La Vista park, which was searched on Thursday, due to the size of the area.

Dive teams from the Omaha Fire Department and Yutan are in the area and Des Moines police also sent canine units to join the search.

The La Vista Police Department went high-tech in the search as well. The department used thermal imaging technology to search air vents at Larsen’s school in case he managed to enter its ventilation system.

Additional search efforts are underway at other locations and additional personnel are on standby if needed.

The Endangered Missing Advisory for Larsen was set to end last night per the program’s 72-hour-expiration protocol but was extended to a bit after 3 p.m. on Friday.

Officials say this does not mean the search for Larsen will end; he will now become part of the state’s missing person system which will allow law enforcement nationwide to access records regarding his disappearance.

When asked why an Amber Alert wasn't issued, officials said Larsen's disappearance didn't meet the criteria necessary for one. Those cases generally require someone witnessing an abduction and being able to provide a description of the suspect and a suspect's vehicle.

La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten said Larsen’s disappearance cuts deep as many at the station have developed a relationship with him. He even brought Christmas presents to the station.

1 p.m.

According to the La Vista Police Department, officials will continue to focus on the Walnut Creek Recreation Area on Friday.

This is an area that Larsen had visited with his family, according to authorities. Additionally, autism spectrum experts have shared that children with autism are drawn toward water.

La Vista police have blocked off entrances to Walnut Creek to allow for officers to conduct a thorough search for Larsen.

Sarpy County Search and Rescue continue to use their boats to search the water there.

The La Vista Police Department added that more than 200 law enforcement officers and support from local, state and federal agencies have been searching for Larsen since he was last seen leaving La Vista West Elementary around noon Monday.

We will stream that on our Facebook and website.

7 a.m.

The search for 11-year-old Ryan Larsen enters day five Friday.

Hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement officers spent much of this week searching for Larsen.

He's 5'8, 125 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes.

Larsen has autism and he does need seizure medication.

The FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have joined in the effort to bring Larsen back home.

RELATED: Thursday developments in the search for 11-year-old Ryan Larsen

He has been missing since Monday when he walked out of his school in the afternoon.

Police say he may be hiding. Officers went door to door at the apartment complex where Larsen lives on Thursday, in the area of 84th and Harrison. They're also using K-9s.

Officers searched the Walnut Creek Recreation Area again.

La Vista police said they're very concerned Larsen may not be able to get home on his own.

“We have a list of what medications he's on. We've talked to doctors about the effects of those medications so it's concerning with some of the things he needs to be on. You can still survive without those meds but it helps you cope with different things that are out there, and obviously, food and water at this stage is huge,” Chief Bob Lausten with the La Vista Police Department said.

If you live in La Vista, Ralston or Papillion, police are asking that you check sheds, under decks, garages and in landscaping like shrubs.

Also, if you have security cameras around your home, it's a good idea to check them to see if they captured video of Larsen in the last few days.

If you see Larsen call 9-1-1.

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