FBI joins the search for missing Yakima boy, bringing new resources

YAKIMA, Wash. — The FBI joined in the search Friday for missing 4-year-old Lucian Munguia, who disappeared nearly two weeks ago from Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima.

Steve Bernd, a spokesperson with the FBI Seattle office, said they were asked for their assistance because they have access to additional resources.

Authorities blocked off the area surrounding the pond early Friday evening and had personnel out on a raft, with at least two divers coming out of the water.

According to the Yakima Greenway, the entire park will be closed Saturday, Sept. 24 from dawn to dusk to everyone, including people traveling on foot.

The Yakima Police Department continues to follow up on tips regarding Lucian’s disappearance, but has not found any sign of him so far. In an interview Sept. 13, Chief Matt Murray told KAPP-KVEW investigators do know that he walked away from the playground on his own.

“There is video — and I’m not gonna talk about where it came from or where it was — that shows Lucian leaving the park in a southeast direction by himself. I can tell you that is true,” Murray said.

Murray said it’s possible something could have happened to the little boy after that, but they just don’t know at this point.

“Nothing leads us to believe there was any foul play,” Murray said.

Multiple searches of the park over the past two weeks and of the Yakima Greenway from Selah to Union Gap — by both trained searchers and untrained volunteers and family members — have turned up nothing.

“We can say with a high chance that this area has been cleared, especially with the amount of people that we’ve had on this case,” said Kyle Cameron with Yakima County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue in an interview Sept. 19.

There’s been boats, kayaks and divers searching local waterways, including the Reflection Pond, Buchanan Lake and the Yakima River, to no avail. But volunteer recovery diver Dave Reynolds said it’s worth other divers taking a look, to make sure nothing was missed.

Meanwhile, the family’s been all but living at the park for the past two weeks to keep up the search day and night, holding onto hope that someone, somewhere, somehow knows something about where their little boy could be.

Family members have expressed gratitude for the hundreds of community members who have volunteered to search or distribute flyers. But as the search drags on, that support has been dwindling and negative social media comments have spread like wildfire.

Additionally, the parents and other family have taken time off work and aren’t bringing in a paycheck as they continue to search. That’s left them wondering how they’re going to pay their bills.

Rich Goodall, owner of Tailgaters Bar & Grill in Selah, said that’s why his staff decided to step up and try to take at least one worry away from the family by holding a fundraiser for them Thursday night.

“We’re trying to raise money for the family to use any way they see fit. We know that there’s a lot of unknown bills that we’re not even sure of, a lot of things taking place right now,” Go0dall said.

Goodall said Lucian’s father is a cook and team member at Tailgaters and coworkers felt they needed to do something to help him and his family. They reached out to the community a few days ago for help and were inundated with messages from local businesses.

“It really wasn’t even us even reaching out; it was other companies reaching out to us, saying, ‘Hey, how can we help? How can we be a part of it?'” Goodall said.

Dozens of local restaurants, groups and organizations donated items for a silent auction. Other community members helped with a bake sale and by holding a 50/50 raffle.

Several staff members also volunteered to donate their tips for the evening, all of it to help support the family and their continued search for 4-year-old Lucian Munguia.

“They’re really good people and I know they’re hurting right now,” Goodall said.

Tailgaters employees told KAPP-KVEW they were able to raise between $8,000 and $9,000 to help the family make ends meet and pay for additional resources.

The family said they’re grateful and any funds leftover when the search ends will be put toward making local parks safer. They’re still asking for volunteers to help with the search and with putting up missing child flyers.