Search Suspended for 4-Year-Old Boy Swept Away By Wave in 'Tragic Accident' at Outer Banks Beach

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 4-year-old boy who was swept away by a wave in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

The Coast Guard and the Kitty Hawk Police Department have suspended their search for a 4-year-old boy who was swept out to sea in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

“Suspending a search for anyone, let alone a young child, is the most difficult thing a commanding officer in the Coast Guard is called upon to do,” Capt. Bion Stewart said in a news release after the Coast Guard ended its search at 8:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday, following a 10 hour-long hunt for the child, whose identity has not been released.

According to the Coast Guard, they received notification that the child was swept away by a wave “at approximately 4 p.m.” local time on Wednesday at the popular tourist destination, Outer Banks. His mother “subsequently lost sight of him in the surf.”

“I can’t imagine what the family of this little boy is going through right now,” Stewart continued.

Outer Banks Coastline
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Shortly after the incident occurred on Wednesday, Kitty Hawk Police Department Chief Joel C. Johnson released a statement on social media about the “tragic accident.”

“Under the watchful eye of the attending parents while walking along the shore, a four-year-old boy was swept away from his mother into the ocean and carried away by the current. As parents, this is our worst nightmare, even for those of us who love and have grown up by the ocean,” he wrote.

“Please join us in thought and prayer for this family as we mourn with them the loss and give thanks for the well-being of our own children,” he added.

On Thursday, Johnson announced that “at this time all search efforts have been suspended and have now transitioned to recovery efforts.”

According to the Outer Banks Sentinel, the Coast Guard had used both a helicopter and lifeboat crew to search for the boy, in addition to teams from various other local emergency services.

Explaining what “recovery efforts” entail, Johnson told PEOPLE on Thursday “we are looking for his remains.”

“We are patrolling the beach…and a lot of citizens are out there looking for him, hoping that he will surface,” he continued, adding that “I hope that we will find him today or tomorrow morning.”

Members of the community have come together in support of the family, according to local news outlet WAVY, with some creating a seashell memorial in the shape of a heart on the beach.

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