ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Florida -- The search for Lamontea Taylor, the 6-year-old officials believe was washed away by a rip current along Coquina Beach, is now being called a recovery effort.
Taylor was at a family cookout when he and his cousins allegedly snuck away, past no swimming signs, and into the water on the edge of Coquina Beach. They were then caught in a rip current that pulled them toward Longboat Pass. Bystanders were able to rescue everyone except Taylor.
"My son came and was like, 'Um, we tried to get him out of the water,'" says Laketa Taylor, Lamontea's mother, who thought he was on a playground. "That's when I noticed he was gone."
Family members called 911 around 6:30 p.m. The search lasted several hours before the U.S. Coast Guard suspended it after dusk.
"The currents were running south, still today and last night, so we have boats concentrating on the Gulf side and the Bay side from here," says Sgt. James Gill with the Bradenton Beach Police Department, which is handling the investigation.
Concerned bystanders like Elisha Evangelista started searching too after they heard the news. "We grabbed all the flashlights we could and came down here to see what we could do to help," she says. "It's a big deal when a child goes missing. As a community, we should all get together to do what we can to help find that child."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission flew a plane over the area on Saturday and Sunday. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has been using sonar, which gives almost camera-quality images, and is especially helpful in rocky areas.
Law enforcement is asking people on boats on the gulf or bay to keep an eye out.
"I just want them to find him," Laketa Taylor says. "That way I can get a little closure that he's not in that water."