On Sunday afternoon, Jose Lara was last seen playing with his sister in the backyard of their Crescent City home.
The mother took the girl inside to clean her up and couldn’t find Jose when she returned, according to WESH 2 News.
The search for Jose was launched and a missing child alert was issued on Sunday afternoon.
H.D. Gator, the Putnam County Sheriff, announced on Monday afternoon that the body was later found in a septic tank on the family’s property, according to an ibtimes report.
An accidental fall appears to have caused the child’s death.
It is believed that the toddler wandered off on his own without anyone around and reached the septic tank 35 to 40 yards from the house. The sheriff’s office alleges Jose may have fallen into the rotten plywood-covered tank by accident.
A 2-square-mile area was searched by law enforcement officers and firefighters, reports ABC News, after the toddler went missing. As part of the probe, authorities agreed Monday to drain the septic tank.
“Underneath the layer of dirt there was a piece of plywood that had been there for some time and appeared it had rotted to the extent so that when he stepped on it, he actually fell in,” DeLoach stated in a news conference.
No foul play is suspected, although the case is still under investigation, according to Action News Jax.
“This was certainly the worst possible case scenario as far as outcome,” DeLoach said.
“These things happen in just a blink of an eye. And it’s terribly unfortunate what’s happened here but it serves as a reminder to all of us who have children, that are parents, that there’s never an opportunity to leave them unsupervised.”
Strangers and neighbors gathered to support the family after learning their child was missing.
“I didn’t go to work, I said I’ve got to do something for this family,” Janet Arce told WESH 2 News.
“As a community, this is the time for us to get together and support each other,” Arce added.
“We’re grieving with the family and ask for your prayers as they grieve this unimaginable loss of a son, a brother, and a grandson,” DeLoach added.