The incident happened during an Outback Steakhouse employee gathering at the beach site around 5:50 p.m. when a call was made to the Mt. Juliet Police Department reporting the missing child. MJPD Commander Mike Mullins responded to the scene while off-duty.
Witnesses said the child was swimming in about 6 feet of water when he disappeared.
Jeff Hood of Hermitage, who was near the scene but not part of the group, said when the boy was discovered missing, someone blew a whistle and told everyone to get out of the water.
At someone’s direction, Hood said, people lined up side by side and walked back into the water toward the area where the boy was last seen.
MJPD Deputy Chief James Hambrick said Tuesday that Wilson Emergency Management Agency officials responded before he arrived at the scene and had “set up quadrants” in the water to search for the child.
The child was located about 20 feet from the shore and brought out of the water. The young Hispanic male was placed on a gurney with CPR being done and placed into a waiting ambulance. Hambrick said authorities believe the child had been under water for 30 to 40 minutes.
In addition to MJPD, Wilson County Sheriff’s Department and divers responded to the scene. Mt. Juliet Police Chief Andy Garrett said that foul play was not suspected in this incident and called it a “pure accident.”
Garrett said the boy was pronounced dead at Summit Medical Center.
Hambrick responded to the scene and was with the boy’s family into the night consoling them as chaplain. He was accompanied by an associate minister from his church who is from Honduras and fluently speaks and understands Spanish to communicate with the family. Hambrick said the family was officially notified of the child’s death around 7 p.m.
“The mother was so distraught,” Hambrick said Tuesday. “She wouldn’t even let go of the child. They had a chore getting her away from the body. “It’s such a tragic thing,” Hambrick said. “If there’s anything we can learn from this it’s just keep a more careful eye on your children, especially in the water.”(This story first appeared at www.wilsonpost.com on Monday.)