September 20, 1997
When a young boy went missing on the East Coast in September 1997, it was reported by The Examiner that one of the biggest search and rescue operations seen in Tasmanian history was failing to find the 12-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer.
Gregory Robertson, of Lewisham, went missing in the remote bushland south of Orford after he wandered away from his family while they were woodcutting about 1pm on September 16.
Melanie Simmonds reported the police found the disappearance baffling as none of Gregory's tracks could be found, despite the boggy ground.
Gregory enjoyed hiding in logs and burnt out trees so a thorough search of such hiding spots was also conducted.
Inspector John Talbot, of Bellerive Police, said he held grave concerns for Gregory's safety.
"Another night in the cold and we'd have to say [Gregory's survival] was marginal," he said.
"However, there's always hope and we'll keep searching."
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SES Glamorgan-Spring Bay unit manager Kate Bradley said it was surprising the boy had not yet been found.
"We're really puzzled with the number of people, the length of time that we've been searching, we really thought we would have got him by now," she said.
It was reported Gregory's father, Steve, and grandfather, Bill, joined more than 10 distraught family members and friends in the grid and line searches. Gregory's mother rushed from Adelaide to Tasmania to help.
At it's peak, the search for the missing 12-year-old covered an area of more than 100 square kilometres and involved more than 700 police, army, ambulance, Forestry Tasmania and other volunteers. Police were overwhelmed during the search with offers of help.
The police also used an infra-red detector system and a sniffer dog in the search for Gregory.
On September 28, The Examiner reported that the boy's body had been found in the Sandspit River after 11 days of searching, near where the tracker dog had led the police twice.
The body was identified at the scene by family and a coronial inquest was scheduled to start the next day, though there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the 12-year-old's death, with drowning suspected to be the cause of death.