Search for 4-year-old halted after dam breaks at Jean Lafitte National Park

First responders set to drain part of the Twin Canals
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Originally Published: 21 JUL 21 11:28 ET

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MARRERO, Louisiana (WDSU) — Work to drain part of the Twin Canals inside Jean Lafitte National Historic Park was not successful. JPSO says they lost the clay dam early Tuesday night and the original water levels returned. The recovery effort now resumes its passive status for the next few days.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said he was granted a permit by the National Park Service to drain part of the Twin Canals inside Jean Lafitte National Historical Park in an effort to recover 4-year-old Ellis Baudean, who has been missing since Thursday.

Crews worked on bridging a 35-foot section of the canal until about 8:30 p.m. Monday when they ran out of clay.

Baudean was reported missing around 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Lopinto said the child was with his mother and 3-year-old brother at the preserve when he is believed to have fallen into the water. He said Ellis is non-verbal and on the autism spectrum, adding “there is zero evidence of foul play.”

Rescue divers had been working blind, reporting they could not see anything below the murky water’s surface. Lopinto said the owner of B and S Equipment, a local company, volunteered to dam the canal and drain the water. Lopinto applied for a special permit to build the dam and drain the canal Sunday, which he said was approved Monday.

He said crews are using clay from Edgard that was approved by the Army Corp of Engineers for use at the National Park.

JPSO says the effort thought was not in vain. They were able to drain about half of the water from the search area which allowed crews to check the root system and they were able to narrow the search area for the remote operating vehicle, and its sonar equipment.

Crews will be in the area for the next few days to ensure the site is returned to the pristine condition it was in.

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