GLOUCESTER — Twenty-five volunteers and five dogs unsuccessfully searched beaches in Rockport and Gloucester today for the remains of Caleigh Harrison, the toddler who is believed to have been swept to sea from a Rockport beach in April.
Six bone fragments were found, but a forensic anthropologist determined they were all animal bones, said Maureen Flatley of Mission for the Missing, the nonprofit group that organized the search.
The searches were conducted over a period of about 5 hours at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, and Pebble Beach and Long Beach in Rockport. Long Beach is where Caleigh disappeared.
The searches came after a pair of pants were found last week at Good Harbor Beach, which is a about a mile south of Long Beach, that may have belonged to the toddler.
Caleigh’s parents spoke of their hope for closure at a news conference this morning at the concession stand at Good Harbor Beach, a summertime family favorite, before the searches began.
Anthony Harrison, Caleigh’s father, said, “If we can find something concrete today, that would be great. You always have that hope. That never dies, but you also get to a point where you want some kind of closure, you want some answers. That would be God’s gift.’’
Allison Hammond, Caleigh’s mother, said she was pretty certain that Caleigh did get swept out to sea and her disappearance wasn’t foul play, as family members once speculated. She said the past seven months have been challenging and finding some piece of evidence that would confirm Caleigh’s fate would offer closure.
But she also said she had mixed feelings because “you don’t want to hope that your daughter fell into the water and drowned while you were yards away. You don’t want that.’’
Authorities said Monday that a pair of pink capri pants had been found at Good Harbor Beach that Caleigh may have been wearing when she disappeared on April 19. The pants were found in ocean debris on the northern end of the beach by a person walking along the shore.
The toddler was last seen at Long Beach. Hammond has said that the family was playing fetch with their dog when a ball went over a seawall. She said she went to get the ball and returned to find her daughter had disappeared.