Alaska State Troopers had not had a new lead on the search for Sawyer Cipolla for more than 24 hours, as of 2 p.m. Thursday, according to AST dispatch reports. Cipolla, who went missing from his house off Forest Drive on Saturday afternoon, is a 7-year-old boy with autism who does not speak.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the list of agencies searching for Cipolla, according to Chloe Martin, a public information officer for the FBI.
Since Cipolla went missing, more than a thousand people, including those from several K9 units, have searched for him, both on the ground, in the air and water, according to numbers reported by the State Trooper dispatch. In addition to the FBI, these groups have included Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, the Kodiak Police Department, the Bayside Volunteer Fire Department, the City of Kodiak Fire Department, Kodiak Island Search & Rescue, search and rescue teams from Anchorage and Mat-Su, the Alaska Air National Guard Rescue Coordination Center, the Coast Guard, Navy Seals and local volunteers, the dispatch reports.
Together, these groups have covered more than 9,600 acres, according to Kodiak Island Borough Assemblywoman and retired Coast Guard member Aimee Williams, who has been helping coordinate search efforts since Sunday.
“Everyone, our community is so strong, so many people have come out and wanted to volunteer,” Williams said. “It has been really inspiring to watch people want to help.”
Williams was in Valdez with her husband when Sawyer went missing on Saturday. When the two came back to the island, they went over to the Bayside Fire Department to volunteer in a search group, she said. At the station, Williams’ husband — who is an active duty service member in the Coast Guard — joined a search group, but Williams decided to stay at the station and help coordinate volunteers, she said. Williams has been at Bayside station everyday since Thursday, she said.
WIlliams is the contact person between the volunteers and Incident Command, which determines the locations to send searchers and the sizes of search groups, she said. They are the “true heroes,” she said.
Every day, volunteers have been arriving at the fire station, Williams said. Most people stop by after they get out of school or finish work, she said. Some people don’t have time to search, but they contribute in other ways, according to Willaims.
Senior Director of Shareholder Services of Koniag, Inc. Stacey Simmons dropped off pizza for searchers on Wednesday night, according to Simmons. It’s a small thing, but it brought a small smile to the face of tired, hungry people during a difficult time, she said.
Simmons has been working with Williams to find ways for Koniag to support the search efforts, she said. On Sunday, Simmons, her son and the Koniag Land Manager Peter Olsen flew a thermal drone around looking for Cipolla, she said. The drone is normally used to monitor wildlife on the corporation’s land, she said. When Simmons was told that Koniag was no longer needed to fly a drone, she kept finding other ways to help, she said.
“We’re all heartbroken about this, our board and all of our corporation staff,” Simmons said. “Personally we have been doing things. Some of our staff have been getting off work and doing things, like the whole community of Kodiak has been.”
Volunteer search groups have been formed at and dispatched from the Bayside Fire Department every day since Sawyer went missing. All volunteers must be at least 16 years old, according to Williams. The Kodiak Emergency Operations Center is posting updates about the search and volunteer needs on its “Search for Sawyer — Kodiak, Alaska” Facebook page.
State Troopers are urging anyone with information about Cipolla to contact them at (907) 486-4121. Volunteer search groups are being formed