SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - Crews have recovered the body of a missing 3-year-old autistic boy, Evan Reed, near the Villages Marina on Lake Palestine.
Emergency responders from all over East Texas, and even Louisiana helped with the search. All are now devastated that the little boy was found dead in the lake around 2:00 Sunday afternoon. The entire community is in disbelief.
"It's heartbreaking. It's devastating," says Jessica Loghry, who lives nearby.
She says when she heard a 4-year-old autistic boy was missing near Lake Palestine, the first thing she thought of was her own son.
"My son has a mild form of autism and it's too close to home. He's 4 years old, and then they said the name, the first name is the same."
When she found out it was a different Evan who was missing, she immediately went to help search.
3-year-old Evan Reed went missing around 5:00 Saturday evening.
Smith County Game Warden Chris Smith says, "He was at home, and we're not sure how the back door got open, a sliding door. Mom noticed the sliding door was open approximately a 6 to 10 minute window and the child has a tendency to run in the backyard and likes to go down towards the water."
Within 30 minutes, help started pouring in from all over.
"Got dive teams from two different states here. I had TDC dogs, bloodhounds, cadaver dogs, DPS, Noonday, sheriff's office, everyone's here to help. We have a lot of volunteers," Swift said.
It wasn't until about 2:00 Sunday afternoon that Evan's body was found in the water near the Villages Marina on Lake Palestine.
"It's heartbreaking, Loghry says. "That's your first fear when you hear that this is so close to the lake, and that this is a child that thinks differently than other kids."
Loghry says her autistic son has similar behavioral patterns as Reed, and explains how easily these children can slip away.
"It's not shocking because it's very difficult to baby proof for a lot of autistic kids. They're obsessive about things that are mechanical. My son, I know I've had doorknob covers and he's taken them apart."
She says she can't stop thinking about Evan's mom.
"She has to be devastated," Loghry says. "That's her entire world, and she just lost it."
Swift says Evan's mother told him her son had been in the water before, but had never swam without a life jacket on.
After Evan's body was found, Smith County Sheriff's Deputies stayed at the family's home to continue investigating. We'll bring you details about that investigation as we get them.