A 4-year-old boy was swept out to sea while walking on the beach with his mother on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
It happened when a huge wave crashed into the two, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials, the New York Post reported.
The boy was pulled into the Atlantic waters Wednesday afternoon, prompting the Coast Guard to launch a search, using an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, and a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat from Station Oregon Inlet.
About an hour into the search, Coast Guard personnel found the boy’s hat about two miles north of where he was swept out to sea. That was the only sign of him they uncovered, according to 13 News Now.
At 8:30 Wednesday evening, the Coast Guard suspended its search.
“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,” Capt. Bion Stewart, a commander with the Coast Guard, said in a statement. “I can’t imagine what the family of this little boy is going through right now.”
The names of the boy and his mother haven’t been released to media outlets.
The family, from Manchester, New Hampshire, was vacationing in Kitty Hawk when the incident happened. Although the day was sunny and warm, the waves reached as high as six feet, according to The Washington Post.
The tragedy prompted shock and sympathy on social media.
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