(WAVY) — The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 4-year-old boy who was swept into the ocean Wednesday afternoon in Kitty Hawk.
Local authorities are now leading what’s called a “recovery operation” hours after an emergency call was received around 4 p.m.
The Coast Guard says the boy was on the beach with his mother in the area of Lillian Street when a “rogue” wave hit both, sweeping the boy into the surf. He was then carried away by the current.
The Coast Guard deployed a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew helicopter out of Elizabeth City and a response boat from the Oregon Inlet to search for the boy. Corolla, Dare County, and Kill Devil Hills rescue squads are now working the case.
A combined 130 square nautical miles were searched, according to the Coast Guard.
As crews continued to search, Kitty Hawk Police Chief Joel Johnson shared this message Wednesday night:
A tragic accident occurred today in Kitty Hawk. Under the watchful eye of the attending parents while walking along the shore, a four year old boy was swept from his mother into the ocean and carried away by the current. As parents, this is our worst nightmare, even for those of us who love and have grown up by the ocean. Please join us in thought and prayer for this family as we mourn with them the loss and give thanks for the well-being of our own children.
Captain Bion Stewart, commander of the Coast Guard’s North Carolina sector:
“Suspending a search for anyone, let alone a young child, is the most difficult thing a commanding officer in the Coast Guard is called upon to do. I can’t imagine what the family of this little boy is going through right now.”