GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The investigation continues into the death of 6-year-old Maddox Ritch, who was found dead on Thursday near Long Creek in Gaston County.
Ritch went missing the previous Saturday while at the Rankin Lake Park with his father and a friend.
Six days later, he was found a little over a mile away, partially submerged in Long Creek near Marietta Street and Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia.
“The chief and I saw Maddox, and it is absolutely amazing that he was found,” said FBI supervisor Jason Kaplan. “It was extremely difficult to see him even when we were standing right next to him.”
Jeremy Day and his family live closest to where Ritch was found - about 150 yards away.
“Knowing that he was found right there is kind of unsettling,” said Day.
Day knows the area well and describes the terrain both the little boy and searches faced.
“It is very thick down in there. Tall grass, thick brush. It is swampy, and you usually have water down there year-round,” said Day. “The brush is so thick down there it is hard for anyone to walk through there.”
Day searched around his home earlier in the week and even went and searched the area where Ritch was found. According to him, there is a trail that runs along the creek that connects the area to Rankin Lake Park. That path passes under Highway 321.
"Yeah, it goes a pretty good way. You can go down there and pass New Hope (Road),” said Day.
Several people in the area confirm that they called police and asked them to search the area. Gaston County Police Chief Joseph Ramey said that was done several times.
“You would not believe the number of times that we have been over and over the same areas,” said Chief Ramey. “We had two separate kayak teams that had been through that area.”
Day said he saw helicopters and search teams around that area during the week.
“There were a couple of groups of people that actually came in through our backyard,” said Day.
An autopsy is being performed on Ritch and the results will be released by the Medical Examiners Office.