Putnam County Sheriff’s Office issued a missing child alert after 1-year-old Jose Lara was reported missing by his family. The mother explained that the boy and his sister were playing in the backyard when she briefly took the girl inside the house to clean her up. When the two got outside shortly after, Jose wasn’t there. His toy track was at the backyard but the child was nowhere to be seen.

The search was extensive and tireless, employing drones, night-vision tools, bloodhounds, and helicopters. Eventually, the boy’s dead body was found inside the septic tank. As the opening of the septic tank was covered in dirt, plywood, and weeds, it took some time for the boy to be discovered.

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“It’s not an uncommon practice in a situation like this when there’s a child missing to search the septic tank as well,” Sheriff Gator DeLoach said during a press conference, as reported by News4Jax.com. “Actually one of our leadership team members made the call to drain the septic tank. At that point, it was unfortunately when we discovered the child’s body,” the Sheriff added.

Authorities do not suspect any foul play as they believe the boy fell after failing to see the opening because of the weeds. However, they add that despite that, the investigation is still open.

Pastor Albert Gutierrez of Iglesia Internacional JesuCristo Es El Senor said the entire community gathered together to pray for Jose. “Church was praying, hoping everything was okay but they thought maybe it was a kidnapping, but it didn’t happen.” He explained that Jose’s mother moved to the States from Honduras a little over a year when she was still pregnant with Jose.

In the meantime, Attorney Kay Harper Williams, who represented a family whose child died in a similar manner around 3 years ago, said that “this is another completely preventable tragedy.”

“If it is true that the septic tank opening was covered with plywood, that would not meet any standards and it should have minimally had a high-density plastic cover and those covers are less than 50 bucks,” she noted. 

Rest in peace, Jose. Our thoughts and prayers are with the grieving family.

MEDIA