The father of Maddox Ritch is grieving the death of his son after the 6-year-old's body was found Thursday.
Ian Ritch took to Facebook in the wake of his son’s death to talk about his loss.
“Today I found out I'm not a dad anymore,” Ritch wrote. “From this moment on for the rest of my life I will live with the guilt of not being there to save my son. The most important person in my life.”
The discovery of Maddox’s body ended a six-day search for the boy, who disappeared while in North Carolina’s Rankin Lake Park last Saturday with his dad.
Ritch said Maddox, who is nonverbal and has autism, ran ahead of him and then vanished.
Ritch described in the Facebook post that he initially thought Maddox would be found right away, but as time passed, he grew more “scared and worried.”
Maddox’s body was found partially underwater in a marshy area of Long Creek about three-quarters of a mile away from where Ritch said he had lost sight of his son.
“Now im no heroe i couldnt save him or protect him at all," Ritch wrote. "I would give anything to go back and save him."
More than a dozen agencies participated in the search for Maddox. Authorities said the investigation is not over and they are still asking anyone who may have been in the park on Saturday to come forward.
“I want to say thank u from the bottom of my heart to everyone who took part in searching for my sweet lil buddy,” Ritch continued in the post. “Maddox was my only child and he will be the only one I will ever have.”