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Divers End Delta Search For Missing Boy

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The Delta-Mendota Canal (U.S. Department of the Interior)

The Delta-Mendota Canal (U.S. Department of the Interior)

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PATTERSON (KCBS) — Divers in Stanislaus County have ended their search of the Delta-Mendota Canal for the bodies of a missing boy and his alleged abductor, who are believed to have drowned after their vehicle was found in the waterway on Friday.

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Raj Singh said divers searched an underwater tunnel without success near where the car belonging to 27-year-old Jose Esteban Rodriguez was found. Sonar also failed to turn up any sign of the bodies.

“We have officers patrolling the frontage road alongside the canal from where this happened on Zacharias Road in Patterson all the way down to Mendota, California, where the canal ends,” Singh said. “They are looking for any victims that would be possibly in the water. The same search is being done by the California Highway Patrol, with their aircraft flying over the canal.”

Singh said crews pulled more than a dozen cars from the water after a witness told authorities he had seen a car which matched the description of Rodriguez’s Toyota Corolla barrel into the canal.

Rodriguez is accused of snatching 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas from his grandmother’s arms on the afternoon of January 18 in Patterson, which set off a statewide Amber Alert.

The two are still officially listed as missing and relatives from both families said they are holding out hope that they might somehow be found alive.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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