Montreal police believe missing boy Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou fell in Rivière des Prairies


Montreal police say they believe a 10-year-old boy who disappeared last week accidentally fell and drowned in the Rivière des Prairies.

Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou was last seen March 12 in des Bateliers Park, which borders the river, after he left his home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville to meet a friend.

“For right now, I can tell you that we’re not capable of saying without a doubt that it’s an accident, but that is the number one hypothesis,” Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière told Radio-Canada.

“That’s why the investigation is ongoing.”

Lafrenière said Ariel was last seen by a woman who also spoke to him in the park around 11:25 a.m. that morning.

“She left the park. We have cameras that show that young Ariel entered the park, but we do not have any that showed he left it,” he said.

In the days since Ariel was last seen in des Bateliers Park, police officers and volunteers have combed the neighbourhood and surrounding areas by foot, horseback, helicopter and boat.
Divers also spent Monday and Tuesday submerged in the water of the Rivière des Prairies, but after no signs of Ariel were found, that search was called off by police.

The boy’s father, Kouadio Frédéric Kouakou, has repeatedly said he believes his son is alive and was abducted. Their family won’t give up on trying to find Ariel, he said.

Lafrenière said the investigation is ongoing and police “haven’t closed the door” on any scenarios.

“All of our thoughts are with the Kouakou family because it’s very difficult and we’re trying to answer to the question of what happened,” he said.

Volunteers showed up in droves

There is also a $100,000 reward in place to elicit new, valuable information that leads to Ariel.

Montrealers started to pledge money after the family initially offered $10,000 to anyone with information about their son’s whereabouts.

Here are details about Ariel, who speaks French:

  • About four-foot-seven, weighs 88 pounds.
  • Dark hair and dark eyes.
  • Was last seen wearing a black coat with a hood, grey pants and yellow shoes.

Anyone with information about Ariel’s disappearance is asked to contact 911.

Police say they have received nearly 700 tips from the public so far. Lafrenière said more than 500 volunteers showed up to help search for Ariel.

“It’s unprecedented,” he said. “Over the past 25 years, I have rarely seen the public react this way.”

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