Missing 1-Year-Old Florida Boy Found Dead in Septic Tank After Intense Search

Jose Lara
Jose Lara.Putnam County Sheriff's Office

The tragic discovery was made by searchers looking for missing toddler Jose Lara.

The body of a missing Florida toddler has been found in a septic tank near his home, authorities said.

Jose Lara had apparently wandered from his backyard Sunday, where he had been playing with his sister. While his mom briefly took the girl inside to clean her up, the 22-month-old vanished, according to Putnam County Sheriff H.D. "Gator" DeLoach.

A desperate search followed, with deputies, neighbors, drones, bloodhounds and helicopters all combing the rural area about 60 miles south of Jacksonville.

After draining a septic tank about 40 yards from the family's home, searchers found Jose's small body at the bottom.

He wasn't immediately discovered because weeds, dirt, and plywood covered the underground tank, DeLoach said. The little boy apparently stepped on a piece of rotting plywood that was across the hole and fell in.

"It's my unfortunate task today to tell you that the search for Jose Lara has ended with the recovery of Jose's body,” DeLoach said at a Monday press conference.

"We're grieving with the family and ask for your prayers as they grieve this unimaginable loss of a son, a brother and a grandson,” DeLoach said. There was no evidence to suggest foul play, the sheriff said.

More than 120 people searched for the child, some of them total strangers.

"I didn't go to work, I said I've got to do something for this family,” said resident Janet Arce. "As a community, this is the time for us to get together and support each other."

Eric Jimenez arrived Sunday. "We were here last night to help out, if we can find him, but we couldn't,” he said Monday.

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