People across the Sault will long remember the story of Ruby Kerr, the 11-year-old girl whose sudden disappearance from St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre last Friday triggered a frantic search-and-rescue operation.
When an OPP helicopter finally delivered Ruby to her grateful family on Saturday afternoon, SooToday was there to record the tearful reunion.
SooToday reporter Alex Flood covered the harrowing ordeal from beginning to end, including an exclusive interview with Ruby's father, who provided new details about his daughter's 29 hours lost in the bush north of St. Kateri.
Flood was a recent guest on Village Media's "Behind the Scenes." For previous episodes, click here.
Last week in Sault Ste. Marie, an 11-year-old student named Ruby Kerr went missing, causing great concern within the community. According to reporter Alex Flood, Ruby disappeared during a game of hide-and-seek at the St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Center. After being found by a classmate, Ruby ran further into the bush due to her competitive nature, eventually getting lost. She spent close to 30 hours alone in the bush, enduring cold temperatures without food, water, or shelter. Authorities organized a command center at St. Kateri, with many concerned residents and individuals familiar with Ruby present. Despite initial search efforts being focused on the immediate surroundings, Ruby was eventually found safe, bringing immense relief to the community.
During the search operation, Alex Flood was present at the command center and described the scene. The command center was set up near St. Kateri, overlooking the field and gathering of family, friends, search and rescue teams, and police. The bush stretched for kilometers beyond the lake, and the search initially concentrated on the immediate area. Access to the search area was limited, and questions arose about why an Amber Alert wasn't issued. Alex explained that an Amber Alert requires specific criteria to be met, such as confirmed abduction and knowledge of the abductor. In Ruby's case, there was no reason to believe she had been abducted, so an Amber Alert was not issued. Some people in the community expressed a desire for a new system that would notify the public when a child goes missing, regardless of whether an abduction is suspected.
Fortunately, Ruby was found alive and well, bringing tears of joy to the community and her family. A video of their emotional reunion, captured by Ken Armstrong of Sootoday, circulated and touched many hearts. Alex mentioned that he was attending a prayer session when the helicopter landed near Saint Kateri, allowing Ken to capture the poignant moment. Ruby's father, Ivan, described watching the video as a surreal experience, like seeing himself in the third person and realizing it was one of the craziest moments of his life.
Overall, the community of Sault Ste. Marie experienced a harrowing ordeal during Ruby Kerr's disappearance, but their concerted efforts and the dedication of search and rescue teams led to a successful outcome with Ruby being found safe.