The search for a missing 7-year-old Portland boy grew larger on Saturday as teams spent another day combing the hills and deep woods near a rural elementary school.
Second-grader Kyron Horman disappeared on June 4 sometime after a science fair at Skyline Elementary School. Saturday was the ninth day searchers spent looking for him.
"The search continues, and it expands to previously unsearched areas," Capt. Monte Reiser of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said at a news conference.
He declined to say whether the expanded areas are contiguous with the two-mile radius around the school on which search teams have focused.
Men and women in fluorescent-colored vests and T-shirts were seen on the roads and in the hills near the school on Saturday.
After fielding multiple interview requests, Kyron's family gave a statement on Friday. His father and stepfather made emotional pleas for his return, with his mother and stepmother present.
It was the family's first public appearance since the boy's disappearance.
"That was very, very stressful for the family to come through," said Capt. Mike Shults, who is serving as the sheriff's office liaison to the family.
The family also released a statement in response to e-mail questions that described Kyron as fun-loving and quiet. The statement, read by Shults, said Kyron loves to fish, and hopes to be a police investigator when he grows up.
Sgt. Diana Olsen, search and rescue coordinator for the sheriff's office, said there were about 300 trained rescuers on the ground on Saturday, about 100 more than were present during the week. Searchers got a break with the sunny weather, a change from the rain and chilly temperatures that had plagued them all week.
Police have not changed the classification on Kyron's disappearance from a "missing endangered child," but they haven't ruled out a criminal investigation.
Olsen said Saturday that search teams feel they're making progress.
"We know where he's not," Olsen said. "That means we're getting closer to where he is."
Olsen said some areas are searched by teams with dogs, then searched by horseback and finally searched again by "grid searches," the slow, methodical process of looking for clues or tracks. She added that the search has no fixed end date.
"This is a large search area out here, and you're talking about a 7-year-old boy," Olsen said.
Olsen said the search is approaching the largest ever conducted by the county.
Steve Rollins of Portland Mountain Rescue said searching for a missing person begins with containing the area when the disappearance is reported. Rescuers then turn to a "hasty team," which does a quick search focused more on covering ground than examining the area.
"When you think you've kind of exhausted your hasty team, you turn to a grid search," Rollins said. "They walk side by side, looking for any clue: footprints, a candy wrapper."
Rollins said his nonprofit search-and-rescue outfit has been called to assist with the search, but he hasn't been directly involved. Rollins said he couldn't comment directly on the search for Kyron, but said generally, by this late in the search, those preliminary options have been tried out.
"When you get into these later stages, they've kind of exhausted those methods," Rollins said.
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