Tragedy struck in North Carolina after the five-day search for Maddox Ritch, a 6-year-old non-verbal boy with autism, came to an end when his body was discovered. The young boy was last seen at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday at 1 p.m. with his father Ian.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Maddox was reported missing after running away from his father and disappearing from sight. Tons of agencies and volunteers assisted in the search for the young boy. Divers were even called in to search the nearby lake.
Yesterday, Ritch’s remains were discovered in Long Creek under two to three feet of water. The creek is located just a mile east of where the Maddox was last seen before disappearing. According to People, Gastonia fire chief Phillip Welch said it is not possible for Maddox to have been swept from the lake to the creek because of the discharge area.
A few hours after his son’s remains were discovered, Ian took to Facebook to speak out about the death of his son.
“First i want to say thank u from the bottom of my heart to everyone who took part in searching for my sweet lil buddy. I truly appreciate everything everyone did to find him. And to everyone in the community that were hoping and praying and just took one second of their time to think about Maddox i thank yall too,” Ian said in the introduction of his very lengthy Facebook post as he thanked everyone who helped search for his son.
Ian opened up about how Maddox was his only child and he would never have another one. He also revealed he wasn’t worried on Saturday when his son went missing because he truly believed they would find him. It wasn’t until the following morning that fear and worry something was wrong started to set in.
“Now today i found out im not a dad anymore,” he added as he opened up about all of the activities he had wanted to do with his son such as fishing, playing sports, and going camping. Ian explained that he wanted his son to see him as a hero such as Batman or Superman.
“I wanted people to ask him who his heroe is and him say my daddy,” he continued to explain as he opened up about how he felt as though he was not a hero and had failed his son when he needed him most.
He added, “Now im no heroe i couldnt save him or protect him at all. I would give anything to go back and save him.”
Maddox Scott Ritch, age 6, was last seen at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, NC, on September 22, 2018, wearing an orange t-shirt with writing "I am the man" on it and black shorts with a white stripe. Help the #FBI and @FBICharlotte find him: https://t.co/iVr3JA4b70 pic.twitter.com/77YoRMQTop— FBI Most Wanted (@FBIMostWanted) September 24, 2018
Ritch also took the time to touch on the fact that a lot of people are hesitant to believe his story on what happened.
“While a lot of people dont believe anything i have said in the past believe this. From this moment on for the rest of my life i will live with the guilt of not being there to save my son. The most important person in my life. So when everyone else gets to go back to their normal lives remember that i will never be the same man again. I will now and forever be a broken man until i take my last breath.”
Ian ended urging parents to hug their children and never repeat his mistake, “Just please hug ur children tighter and please dont make my mistake and let them get too far away from u. Do everything u can with ur children because i wont get the chance to do anything with mine.”
The six-day search for Maddox Ritch, the 6-year-old boy with autism who went missing at a North Carolina park, ended with the discovery of a body in a creek, officials said.— CNN (@CNN) September 27, 2018
"I'm heartbroken," Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said. https://t.co/E2NXgNKJGv pic.twitter.com/l5sAeEaILv
In less than 24 hours, Ian’s Facebook post has accumulated 1,200 shares, just shy of 1,000 comments, and nearly 2,000 reactions.