Weather continues to suspend search for child

  • 12/06/2016

The search for a two-year-old girl swept away in a flooded West Coast river won't resume on Sunday amid poor weather.

Emily Saunders has been missing since the 4WD vehicle she was in with her parents and two men became submerged while crossing the swollen Poerua River, near Harihari, south of Hokitika, on Thursday.

Severe weather warnings have been in place for the region and police on Sunday said they would not be able to search until conditions improved.

They now expect to resume looking on Monday.

On Friday police recovered the body of Barry Petrie, 66, and local iwi representatives blessed the area.

Media report the family drove across the river to pick the men up and the vehicle became submerged on the way back. They had all got out of the vehicle and one of the men was carrying Emily when she was swept away.

Her parents, Sandra and Michael, released a statement via police on Saturday saying the efforts of Mr Petrie to try to save Emily would never be forgotten.

"Our thoughts are with Barry's family as well at this time.

"Our daughter Emily was a happy, cheeky little girl who loved the outdoors. She will be missed by her mum and dad and her older sisters Tiffany and Natalie and all who knew her."

Mr Petrie was reported to be an experienced bushman and was involved with search and rescue.

Emily's parents originally come from England and they sharemilk on a farm near where the tragedy occurred.