Listen to the story:
Dozens of people gathered outside the Bayside Volunteer Fire Department – just outside of Kodiak city limits – on Sunday morning to continue searching for Sawyer Cipolla. It was slightly overcast, and a Coast Guard helicopter whirred overhead. A steady stream of volunteers – wearing backpacks and hiking boots – showed up to help.
Paul Dunn and his wife Stacey just moved to Kodiak – they greeted newcomers at the firehouse, and directed them to a check-in table inside.
“Our church actually let out early today so we could come volunteer down here,” said Paul Dunn.
Cipolla went missing near his home on Forest Drive off Three Sisters Way, in a heavily wooded part of the island on Saturday afternoon. He’s 7-years-old and autistic. Volunteer searchers were told he responds to the name “Brigadier,” or vocal howling. He also answers to the phrase “come on in.”
At the fire department, new arrivals were assigned to a search team, before heading out into the field. For some, like Kodiak resident Jingkie Christescu, Sunday was their second day searching, and it was more coordinated than the day before.
“Yesterday when we went out, there was a lot of individual teams, two people here or there, single people just looking,” said Christescu.
Alaska State Troopers are in charge of the ongoing search. In an email, Troopers public information officer Tim DeSpain wrote that nearly a thousand volunteers have been looking for Cipolla since he was reported missing. That includes local pilots, ground searchers and horseback teams.
The search also includes various members of local law enforcement, Kodiak Island Search and Rescue, Coast Guard Base Kodiak and U.S. Navy Seals. And by Saturday night, K9 teams had arrived from Anchorage and Mat-Su.
A number of families – including children – joined the group of searchers waiting to be deployed on Sunday morning. It was Mother’s Day. That was on Christescu’s mind as she waited to head out in the field.
“We just want to find him, yes, and I have a 7-year-old too,” she said.
Volunteers can report to the Bayside Volunteer Fire Department to join the search. Meanwhile, homeowners in the area where Cipolla disappeared are encouraged to check any potential hiding spots on their properties for the little boy.
Cipolla was last seen wearing grey pants, an Under Armor brand camouflage hoodie and hiking boots when he disappeared, according to the Alaska State Troopers. He is white with brown hair and brown eyes, and four and a half feet tall. Anyone who thinks they may have seen Cipolla should call the Alaska State Troopers in Kodiak. Their number is 486-4121.