After an emotional weeklong search, authorities have found the body of Maddox Ritch. “Our community is heartbroken — our searchers, our investigators. This is not the end we’d hoped for,” said Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton in a news conference Thursday afternoon. [Gaston Gazette News]
Maddox, who is on the autism spectrum and nonverbal, enjoyed running. So, after seeing a jogger run past him and his father, Ian Ritch, on that Saturday afternoon on September 22, 2018 he began to run. Since this was normal for Maddox to do, Ritch allowed him to run 20 to 30 feet ahead of him.
However, Maddox began to sprint and his father could not keep up with his son because of diabetic neuropathy in his feet. This made him lose sight of where Maddox was. About an hour later, around 2:30 pm, a park ranger called 911 to report a child missing. This sprung a days-long search to find Maddox Ritch.
After five days, his body was found partially submerged in Long Creek off of Old Dallas Road, roughly a mile away from Rankin Lake Park, which is where Maddox had first been reported missing. Authorities say the investigation of the child’s disappearance and death will continue. They hope to retrace the creek bed to find out where exactly Maddox may have entered the water and how long he was there for.
Wandering is a huge issue in the autism community and many companies have released devices that help prevent wandering. AngelSense is the only GPS and voice-monitoring device that can help keep your child safe. They believe that all children and parents deserve a sense of security and to be well treated at all times. This device can prevent your child from not only wandering but also stops bullying and mistreatment.
Our hearts go out to the Ritch family during this difficult time.