Police: Body of 11-year-old CJ Udall found in Mesa canal

MESA, AZ - Authorities say the body of an 11-year-old boy who went missing Saturday morning has been found in a Mesa canal.

Mesa police Lt. Ed Wessing said divers found Carvel J. Udall's body about 30 yards from where the family's dog was pulled from the canal earlier in the day.

Police said CJ, who has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, got out of his family's home, which backs up to the canal, near Ray and Power roads.

Sgt. Diana Williams said it appears CJ and his dog were able to get access to the canal through an opening in the fence surrounding their property.

Authorities originally thought the boy may have taken the dog for a walk around the canal.

Police said family members realized the boy was gone around 9 a.m. when they heard the dog barking loudly from the area of the canal just behind their property.

They found the dog unable able to get out of the canal and were able to successfully save the dog.

Authorities, including ground and air members from the Mesa Police Department, Gilbert Police Department, ASU Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, began searching for CJ

Williams said that after several hours the search was focused on the canal and members of the MCSO dive team responded to help.

CJ's body was found around 1:20 p.m., not far from where his dog was rescued.

Police said the situation isn't suspicious, just a "tragic accident."

An uncle of the boy told ABC15 the family was hosting a Boy Scout camp out in the backyard to celebrate CJ recently earning a handicap awareness merit badge.

The uncle, who did not want us to identify him, said CJ is the youngest of several children. He said the family has lived on the property next to the canal all of the boy's life.

CJ was known for trying to get out to the canal to explore and the family had set up many precautions -- alarm systems, metal walls, rebar blocking the opening to the drainage entrance -- but apparently he found a way out this morning, according to the uncle.

He described CJ as a special child with a taste for adventure, saying he was without fear.

CJ's family issued the following statement Saturday night:

"We are heart broken at the loss of our most amazing and talented son, CJ Udall. His life ended too abruptly but we know that he has returned to his Heavenly Father and is with his grandpa and namesake Carvel Jackson.

We ask those moved with compassion at our loss to consider making a donation to a fund that has been set up to honor the memory of CJ. The fund will benefit the organizations that our son loved and that profoundly touched his life.

Donations may be made to the CJ Udall Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Branch."

 

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