Authorities believe missing boy is alive, search continues

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - As a massive rescue effort approaches its fourth night, authorities said as far as they're concerned, the missing 8-year-old is alive, and they want to get him the help he needs.

Authorities have left behind glow sticks to lead Robert Wood, Jr. to food, blankets and water. Searchers aren't giving up, their emotions are driving them to find the little boy.

This face, the thought of the 8-year-old alone in the woods and his family's distress are all motivations behind a daunting task. With no survival skills, Robert's situation is dire, but all hope isn't lost.

"There will be no question we believe and we are operating under the assumption that Robert Wood, Junior is alive," said Hanover Sheriff's Dept. Captain Mike Trice.

The entire search area is 22 square miles. A major focus is on the river and the North Anna Battlefield Park where Robert left a trail during a family outing four days ago.

"Robert was last seen about 150 yards from that river," said Captain Trice.

Pete Fields and Joyce Cowfer drove down from Maryland with "Awesome" and "Surefire".  They're part of TROTSAR, a mounted search and rescue team. Emotions can't get in the way.

"We've got to be calm, cool, collected and not forget what we've been taught - focus keep your head moving, just don't let your heart get in the way of your intellect, otherwise we're going to miss," said Pete Fields.

The mounted search and rescue team has the advantage of being higher off the ground. Fields said the horses will let them know if they're close to Robert.

"We're counting on Robbie to be moving. He may not be, but if he's moving they'll tell us," said Fields.

Army specialist Amber Chase is making sure volunteers have food for their long hikes.

"I love to do this. I have a child of my own. I would appreciate any help they would do," said Chase.

Volunteers like John Koontz. He's supposed to be at work with the Virginia National Guard, but as a father himself couldn't stay away.

"Just need to get him out of the woods. I'm worried about the hypothermia; at least give his mom and family some closure," said Koontz.

The FBI, DEA and Coast Guard I'm told are also all helping with the ground search and logistics.

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