By: CELINA ARZOLA
Monday afternoon, the Merced dive team found the body of three year old Andres Tomas in the waters of an irrigation canal near Delhi, CA. The boy was found about seven feet underwater, trapped in a weir near Lateral 6 of Turlock Irrigation District canal, near Griffiths road and Leatteau Avenue, approximately two miles from where the Merced County sheriff’s deputies believe he went missing.
The toddler was found shortly after 2 p.m., nearly 48 hours from the time he was reported missing.
Andres Tomas, his father, told sources that the boy was playing in the front yard of his grandmother’s house before she “lost sight of him and he just disappeared”.
“I’m a grandfather myself, and my heart just breaks for her and the little boy’s whole family. Our guys worked tirelessly trying to find this little boy, and it’s just a tragedy that this was the final result,” said Sheriff Vern Warnke.
Andres was last seen on the far side of a garden fence, Tomas said. The grandmother went around the garden to get the boy and by the time she arrived at the spot where he had been he was gone, Tomas said.
Tomas said he rushed into the house as soon as he was called with the news that the toddler was missing. “I found his footprints right next to the water,” he said. Tomas said the boy had never been swimming but loved to be near the edge of the water and throw rocks in. He believes his son bent down to get a rock, then tripped and fell in the canal.
The water in the canal is swift and measures about 4 1/2 feet deep; however, visibility is only about 2 feet, Merced County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Framstad said.
While much of the search effort focused on the canal, investigators also spoke with numerous residents in the area and examined surveillance footage from security cameras provided by several businesses in the neighborhood. Turlock Irrigation District officials on Sunday slowed the water flow by about 33 percent to aid the divers, Goins said.
The boy was the oldest child of Thomas and his wife’s three sons; the others are two years-old and one month old.