The body of a 2-year-old South Carolina boy was found in a river swollen by recent rains Wednesday a day after the child wandered out of his family's yard near Spartanburg, authorities said.
Searchers found the body of William Eschenbach around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in a river about a mile from his home, said Master Deputy Tony Ivey, spokesman for the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office.
"It's real tragic thing to happen to a family," Ivey said.
Authorities have said foul play is not suspected. Coroner Rusty Clevenger said preliminary autopsy results showed that William drowned.
The child's mother told authorities she went inside the family's home briefly on Tuesday afternoon, leaving William playing with his sister in the yard. When she returned at around 3:45 p.m., the boy was gone.
Investigators have said they believe William may have wandered away from his home through an open gate.
The mother said she looked for about an hour before calling authorities, who used helicopters, dogs, heat-seeking gear and divers to try to locate the boy in the heavily wooded area around his home.
Searchers found child-sized footprints that led to the water and sent in dogs to follow the boy's scent, Ivey said.
William was found near the water's edge. The part of the Tyger River that runs near the boy's neighborhood is two-to-eight feet deep in the area that was searched, Ivey said.
The search was complicated by dense foliage and the river's swift current, which Ivey said was accelerated by recent rainfall in the area — something that might have attracted the boy to its shores.
"It's not very hard to imagine a little two-year-old being adventurous in there and just taking off through the woods playing," Ivey said. "The parents said that he had a fascination for the water. So to see the river like that, and the swift current, and the sounds that it was making, probably enticed him to get a little too close. He just slipped right in."
Ronnie Faulkner, a 41-year-old roofer who has hunted in the area for over a decade, joined volunteers and officials searching for the toddler on Tuesday night. When he saw a diaper floating in the water the next day, Faulkner said he knew it was too late.
"It's a tragedy," he told The Associated Press. "I knew he was dead before the phone rang and they called to say they found the body."