A 5-year-old boy, Jerold Joseph Williams, has been found dead after wandering away from his family’s campsite in the Kaibab National Forest near the Grand Canyon. The child was with 20 friends and family in the remote campsite when he vanished from a trail while chasing grasshoppers. A 5-day search has ended with the Coconino County sheriff’s office stating that the boy’s body has been found.
ABC 7 reports that a 5-year-old boy from Arizona, Jerold Joseph Williams (also referred to as Jerald in media reports), was found dead after he went missing from his family’s remote campsite in the Kaibab National Forest just north of the Grand Canyon. The boy’s mother says she was walking about 100 yards away from the family’s campsite with the child when she “lost sight” of her son at around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday as he chased grasshoppers.
The Daily Mail notes that Jerold’s family didn’t immediately call police because they thought the child would be easy to find. However, after the group’s unsuccessful search, authorities were notified of the missing child at 5:30 p.m. Gerry Blair, a spokesman for the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, notes that the department did as much as they could on Thursday before quickly losing daylight hours.
“We didn’t get this thing until 5:30 p.m. (Thursday). We did as much as we could with both operations on the ground and in the air, but we were short on daylight.”
Following Jerold’s disappearance, hundreds of volunteers descended on the area to help search for the missing child. Teams looked for the missing boy with dogs, ATVs, and even military helicopters equipped with night-vision. However, the child would remain missing for five days.
According to the New York Daily News, police say the child’s body will be sent to Flagstaff, Arizona, for positive identification using fingerprints and dental records.
“We don’t have positive identification yet, but we do believe that this is the body of the missing child.”
Though the body was found, police have not released a cause-of-death in the heartbreaking case. However, authorities did say earlier in the case that there were no signs of an abduction or foul play. They also noted that Jerold Williams’ parents were devastated by the disappearance and remained involved throughout the search efforts.
“I don’t think the mother has left the command post. She had been there the whole time.”
In total, the sheriff’s office says that over 400 people took part in the search effort that ultimately led to the recovery of the child’s body.
[Image Credit: Coconino County Sheriff’s Office]