GASTONIA, N.C. -- (WGHP) -- A body that was believed to be that of 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was confirmed to be the missing boy, WCNC reports.
The Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the identity four days after the body was found in a creek near Rankin Lake Park.
Ian Ritch, Maddox's father, said he and his son frequently walked in Rankin Lake Park. That's where they were Saturday, he said. Ritch said his son often ran ahead of him, and then would slow down and wait for him to catch up.
But on Saturday, the boy, who has autism and is nonverbal, ran too far ahead, and Ian Ritch lost sight of him.
Ian said he "started panicking."
"We were walking on a track around the lake and he decided to take off from me. ... I didn’t think nothing of it and he got a little too far away from me," Ian Ritch told "Good Morning America" Wednesday. "As soon as I got to the point where I couldn’t see him anymore, I started panicking. I couldn’t see him anywhere."