The grief of a parent losing their child is unimaginable. For Ian Ritch, he has said it has taken away his role as a father.
Ian is the father of Maddox Ritch, an autistic boy that went missing in Gastonia, North Carolina, last Saturday. The 6-year-old boy’s body was tragically found Thursday by local authorities.
In the devastating wake of his son’s death, Ian Ritch took to Facebook to express his grief.
“Now today i found out im (sic) not a dad anymore,” he 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,” he continued. “The most important person in my life.”
Maddox was found after a six-day search around the Rankin Lake Park area. The boy had been walking around the lake with his dad and another adult when he ran ahead and disappeared.
Maddox was nonverbal, which made it even more difficult to find him. Authorities searched every inch of the surrounding area, even playing recordings of his parents’ voices to try to find him.
In the Facebook post that Ian wrote, he talked about how he thought Maddox would be found quickly. But, with each passing day, he became increasingly “scared and worried.”
The boy’s body was ultimately located in the marshy area of Long Creek, about three-quarters of a mile from where Ian told authorities Maddox had disappeared from sight.
“Now im no heroe i couldnt save him or protect him at all (sic),” Ian wrote on Facebook. “I would give anything to go back and save him.”
Ian also used his Facebook post to show appreciation for all that helped look for his son.
“I want to say thank u from the bottom of my heart to everyone who took part in searching for my sweet lil buddy (sic),” Ian wrote on Facebook.
“Maddox was my only child and he will be the only one i will ever have (sic),” he added.
Police have said the investigation is not over with finding the boy. They are still urging anyone that was in the park last Saturday to come forward with any information they might have.
The search for Maddox included more than a dozen different agencies.
We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. Our thought and prayers are with the Ritch family during this trying time.
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