NC police fear beachgoers may find missing boy's body and spread word of tragic details

NC police fear beachgoers may find missing boy's body and spread word of tragic details

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - The Kitty Hawk Police Department is concerned beachgoers in the popular tourist town may discover the body of a 4-year-old drowned boy and it is asking for discretion.

Due to wind, currents and other conditions, the department says it cannot predict where the body will show up. The boy's hat was found two miles north of where he disappeared, reports WMUR.

"If you happen upon something at the beach that requires a closer inspection by authorities please limit your communication to 911," Chief Joel C. Johnson said in one of two Facebook posts. "We ask for sensitivity and restraint at this time for the family's sake."

Johnson added that the department has seen a large number of people offering to help in the search, but police would like to be first to notify the family of any discovery.

The Kitty Hawk Police Department reports the incident happened just before 4 p.m. Tuesday "under the watchful eye of the attending parents." The weight of a wave pulled the boy down into the water and the current swept him out to sea, the department said in a post.

Johnson called it a parent's "worst nightmare."

The Coast Guard has joined the search, covering 130-square nautical miles.

TV station WMUR reported the boy and his family are from Manchester, New Hampshire, and were vacationing on the Outer Banks at the time of the incident.

The police chief in Kitty Hawk said the 4-year-old boy was holding hands with his mother and walking in ankle-deep water when a big wave knocked them both down and pulled the boy out to sea, reported TV Station WHDH.

Beachgoers have created a memorial of seashells on the beach in honor of the boy, leaving messages of love and encouragement for his family, the station reported.