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Search for Ryan Larsen continues at Walnut Creek

Posted at 8:06 AM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 23:40:35-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The search for Ryan Larsen is continuing more than a week after he was last seen. The 11-year-old with autism was last seen leaving La Vista West Elementary School on May 17.

Crews spent Monday night combing through Walnut Creek, which had its water levels lowered by the Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District.

Having the water levels lowered few feet will allow search teams better physical and visual access to the water. The water at Walnut Creek is murky and filled with debris such as tree branches, tires, and other natural obstructions.

La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten said that there have been multiple K9 hits based on a scent at the same location at Walnut Creek. The first hit was on Friday with subsequent hits on Saturday and Monday. The hits were in the northeast end of Walnut Creek.

Over 15 organizations are helping assist La Vista Police in their search for Larsen by offering dive teams, expertise, high-tech equipment, air support, and K9 units.

Authorities said on Friday that Walnut Creek was being searched because Larsen and his family have visited there, and he wandered off there before.

People are also encouraged to keep an eye out for Larsen and to notify police if he's spotted. Larsen is still considered to be an endangered missing person.

The Walnut Creek Recreation Area remains open for visitors but police have appreciated all the residents who have made alternate plans.

On Monday, the Omaha Police Department published information on social media for families and caregivers of people who have a tendency to wander or 'elope.' It can be common for people with autism, but also for individuals with a variety of diagnoses.

RELATED: Walnut Creek water level to be lowered to help find Ryan Larsen

Larsen has brown hair and hazel eyes. He's 5-foot-8 and weighs 125 pounds.

Larsen also has been added to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

Police also cautioned people against being internet rumors regarding Larsen, saying all official information will come from them. As of Monday afternoon, no arrests have been made and nobody is in custody.

Project Harmony, a child advocacy center, has provided parents with tips on how to help children cope with Larsen’s story:

  • Clarify any misconceptions they may have.
  • Try to limit their exposure to the case.
  • Don't dismiss their feelings.
  • Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."
  • Find the positive by highlighting people who are helping.
  • Take positive action together by finding ways you can help.

This is a developing story. We will provide updates on-air and online.

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