Authorities have found the body of a 4-year-old boy five days after he was swept out to sea by a wave in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
The child, identified as Wesley Belisle, was located on Carova Beach at 7:40 a.m. local time on Monday by the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, the Kitty Hawk Police Department announced on Facebook.
“Wesley’s family has been notified and are making arrangements for him to be transported back to New Hampshire,” Kitty Hawk police chief Joel C. Johnson wrote on the department’s official Facebook page. “We hope that the outpouring of compassion and offers of support, thoughts and prayers to the Belisle family from people all over the world can bring them some amount of solace in this time of tremendous grief.”
Carova Beach is on the northern part of the Outer Banks, a popular tourist destination where the boy was pulled away by the sea last Wednesday. His mother “subsequently lost sight of him in the surf,” the Coast Guard said last week.
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The Coast Guard said they learned that the child was swept away by a wave “at approximately 4 p.m.” local time last Wednesday.
“I can’t imagine what the family of this little boy is going through right now,” Capt. Bion Stewart, commander of the Coast Guard’s North Carolina sector, said at the time.
Shortly after the incident, Kitty Hawk police chief Johnson addressed the “tragic accident” in a statement on social media.
“Under the watchful eye of the attending parents while walking along the shore, a four-year-old boy was swept away from his mother into the ocean and carried away by the current,” he wrote. “As parents, this is our worst nightmare, even for those of us who love and have grown up by the ocean.”
Johnson added: “Please join us in thought and prayer for this family as we mourn with them the loss and give thanks for the well-being of our own children.”
The Coast Guard and the Kitty Hawk Police Department suspended their search for Wesley last Wednesday following a 10 hour-long hunt for the child.
“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,” Stewart said in a news release after the Coast Guard ended its search.
On Thursday, Johnson announced that “at this time all search efforts have been suspended and have now transitioned to recovery efforts.”
Explaining what “recovery efforts” entail, Johnson told PEOPLE on Thursday “we are looking for his remains.”
“We are patrolling the beach…and a lot of citizens are out there looking for him, hoping that he will surface,” he continued to PEOPLE.
The Kitty Hawk community came together in support of the family, according to local news outlet WAVY, with some creating a seashell memorial in the shape of a heart on the beach.