An infant’s body was found in alligator-infested waters in Florida on Monday, after the boy went missing in the Withlacoochee River late Sunday.
Tampa Bay Times reports that 7-month-old Elija Wilson was being held by his uncle, who was sitting on the tailgate of the truck that faced the river. The pickup rolled down an embankment into the water at night, and Stock, 46, found himself trapped beneath engine block.
Stock’s body was found Sunday night, but divers faced complications searching for the baby due to harsh currents and alligators in the area. Searchers found Elijah around 10 a.m. — not far from where the truck rolled down the bank. The area where the baby’s body was found was especially murky, and compromised anyone’s search efforts.
Pasco County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Jenkins said Stock attempted jumping off the tailgate, but the truck fell on top of him. Family members witnessed the tragedy after everyone moved from Withlacoochee River Park at closing time to another section of the river.
“He panicked and was trying to save the child’s life,” Jenkins explained of Stock’s reaction to the truck rolling.
Bay News 9 has more on what Jenkins revealed about relatives trying to find baby Elijah and his uncle. About 25 family members were involved in the search.
“There were multiple people who went in the water in an attempt to conduct their own rescue. But due to the tragic circumstances, it appears the man and, likely, the 7-month-old child were trapped under the vehicle, and it would have been almost impossible to retrieve them.”
Food was reportedly spread out in the bed of the truck, and Stock and the infant were sitting near it on the tailgate. Melanie Snow, the sheriff’s spokeswoman, said the accident is under investigation.
“At this point it appears the truck, by some reason we’ve yet to determine, became disengaged and rolled into the river.”
According to the report, divers from Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and searchers from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to a call and arrived at the scene where the river flows by Ranch Road and Auton Road east Pasco.
Visibility was said to be only about a foot in the river where the infant’s body was found. Search and recovery had to trudge through unraveled fishing lines, strong currents, and alligators. They worked through the night with large bright lights. When the infant’s body was found, everyone at the river had a moment of silence.
[Image via Bay 9 News]