PENSACOLA, FLA. — A Florida community continues to mourn today for Owen Black, an eight year-old Louisiana boy who has autism, who drowned over the weekend near Perdido Key.
“The grief of this family is overwhelming,” Sheriff David Morgan, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, said with tears welling up in his eyes. He had to pause for nearly a minute before continuing. “Let me talk about the good things. I cannot tell you how proud I am of the response we had. Every agency we called came forward. This is your community and this is your nation.”
The Black family was vacationing in Pensacola, Fla. when the unthinkable happened. On Friday, May 17, their autistic child, Owen, went missing.
“This is a parental nightmare,” Sheriff Morgan said. “This is what we fear the most. Having a child come up disappeared. If you want to feel helpless, you find yourself in this situation.”
There was an immediate call to action and agencies from every surrounding state came out to assist with the search.
“The citizens of this county, the citizens of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, all came out to help,” he said.
Unfortunately, the search ended on Sunday at roughly 1:00 p.m.
“He was found a half a mile from where he was reported missing,” Sheriff Morgan noted. “The way the undertows and current work here, the assumption is that he was trapped in an undertow and then swept out to sea.”
A private citizen discovered Owen’s lifeless body on the beach. Officials made a positive identification and then made the painstaking task of notifying the family.
“It’s a difficult thing to be the grim reaper and bring this news to a family,” Sheriff Morgan noted with tears in his eyes.
Although the investigation is ongoing at this time, officials say foul play is not suspected.
“There is nothing to indicate that this was anything other than a horrific accident that occurred to this family,” he said.
The hometown of the family was not provided.
Photo and YouTube video provided by the Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office.