ROCKPORT — With rough seas expected today following Sunday and Monday's rains, the search for nearly 3-year-old Caleigh Ann Harrison remains stalled for a third day.
But other aspects of the investigation are ongoing — with new hopes being pinned on the results of a weekend interview with Caleigh's 4-year-old sister to help find the missing child.
With stormy seas and high winds forecast for today, Massachusetts State Police have pushed back to Wednesday any resumption of the formal search for missing Gloucester toddler.
Elizabeth Harrison, 4, spoke with a person trained in caring for children with traumatic experiences — described as a child psychologist by family members — on Saturday, according to David Harrison Jr., brother of Caleigh's father, Anthony Harrison of Gloucester.
Elizabeth had initially told state police she could not remember what happened in the last moments before Caleigh disappeared. Authorities have not advised family members of any results from Saturday's interview with the little girl, David Harrison said.
According to reports, Elizabeth and Caleigh were playing on Long Beach in Rockport, near Cape Hedge Beach, with their mother, Alison Hammond, also of Gloucester, and the family dog. Hammond turned from the girls to get a wayward ball, and when she returned, Caleigh was gone.
Massachusetts State Police reiterated Monday that foul play has not been ruled out at this point — noting that, though there seems to be no evidence of an abduction, without proof that Caleigh went into the ocean, alternative scenarios cannot be discounted.
"We'd have to have obviously clear information that Caleigh entered the water," said State Police spokesman David Procopio. "We can't say for sure what happened to her."
Procopio said late Monday afternoon that a renewed coastal search by divers and with state police helicopters, initially planned for Tuesday morning, will restart Wednesday. The forecast for this morning calls for winds between 15 and 20 knots, increasing to 25 knots in the afternoon, with 6 to 9 foot seas, conditions that could endanger the searchers by on the sea and in air.
A Gloucester woman, however, is looking to do her part to keep Caleigh's disappearance in the foreground, and is urging fellow residents to show the community's support for the family and for Caleigh's return.
A neighbor of the Harrison family, Sheila McCarthy, is asking locals to put a candle in a window facing in the direction of Long Beach, with the idea of an ongoing mini-vigil in as many homes as possible.
"People want to do something, so let's light up Gloucester and Rockport," McCarthy said.
David Harrison, meanwhile, said the family appreciates the efforts of the community to both try to find Caleigh and to offer support.
"I can't imagine how people go through this alone in the world," said Harrison. "We are all so grateful for the support the community has given us."
Caleigh's family has gathered together to await news, said Harrison.
Authorities, meanwhile, continue to carry the investigation in a variety of directions.
On Friday, state police used a buoy weighed to match Caleigh's estimated 35-pound weight in order to determine where the current could have carried the girl. The buoy followed the southern edge of the rocks at Saratoga Point, then turned north and landed along the rocks by Cape Hedge Beach, Procopio said.
Procopio said divers searched that area before bad weather forced them out of the water, but nothing was found.
As many as 20 divers were scheduled to begin searching again today, and are expected to get back into the water at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
On Monday, however, the ocean — swelled with rainwater — completely covered the area where Caleigh was last seen, with the crashing surf the only sounds heard on the nearly empty beach.
Stephanie Bergman can contacted at 978-283-7000 x3451 or email@example.com