After two days of tirelessly searching for any signs of Owen Black, 8, officials and volunteers who have been combing through water and sand got the news they prayed they wouldn't hear.
Those looking for Black, who had autism and didn't speak, had been targeting areas officials sais he was attracted to, including colorful areas, construction sites and places he could hide.
Black was last seen by witnesses after he walked out of his parent's rental condo on Friday.
He was found Sunday afternoon by a Perdido Key resident. His body was floating toward the shore near the Shipwreck Condos in Perdido Key.
An hour later, Sheriff David Morgan and a number of volunteers fought back tears as they announced he had been found.
"You always hold out hope because you want to believe there will be a good ending. Especially as parents, you want to believe if we do it long enough and hard enough there will be a happy resolution," said Morgan.
Debi Pomeroy's volunteer group spent the last two days with little sleep, searching the beach in shifts using flashlights.
"It was definitely overwhelming. Its not the outlook we here hoping for. I would have searched two more days if I had to, just to find him alive," said Pomeroy. "We stayed up all night. We stayed by the command center. We walked every direction we could. When the sun came up, we walked over to the coffee house and waited for searches. We were the first group out in the morning."
In a 2:30 p.m. Press Conference held Sunday, May 19, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said,
"It is with great sadness that the Escambia County Sheriff's Office releases the following information, at approximately 1303 CST our search for Owen Black is concluded. A citizen in Perdido Key observed him in the water washing toward shore. An immediate response has determined that he succumbed to drowning. There are no indications of foul play; however the standard investigative and medical examiners protocols will apply. We ask for the community and nation's prayers for this family in mourning and our thanks are again extended to all law enforcement, military, State and Federal agencies as well as the hundreds of volunteers who responded to Owen's call."
Many volunteers were in the middle of preparing for another round of searches when they got the news that Owen's body had been found. Officials say it's still too soon to tell, but it's possible he got caught in a rip current.
"You just hope he's hiding and you're going to find him. You hope that it won't have this ending," Volunteer Renae Rollo said.
Pomeroy said she's heartbroken for Black's family.
"I wish it would have ended a different way. I wish we could have found him any other way than the way we did," said Pomeroy.
Officials said there are no indications of foul play.
An autopsy will be done to determine cause of death.
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