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TPD divers recover body of 2-year-old Armani Pierce in Hillsborough River

11:39 AM, Aug 14, 2013   |    comments
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Video: 2-year-old found in river press conference

Armani Pierce went missing near the Temple Crest playground on 37th Street North Tuesday, August 13, 2013. His body was found in the Hillsborough River the next day.



Tampa, Florida -- Tampa Police divers have recovered the body of Armani Pierce in the Hillsborough River.

Frantic and exhausted, family members had to hold up the toddler's mother and father when police told them of the discovery Wednesday morning.

His mother called out over and over, "Oh my baby!" as she dissolved into tears.

The 2-year-old had been missing since about 8:30 Tuesday night

Police say it all started when the boy ran off as his family was heading to their car after watching football and cheerleading practice at Temple Crest Park. The park is on N. 37th Street, just south of Busch Gardens.

The Hillsborough River is right next to the park where Armani vanished.

Andrea Davis with the Tampa Police Department said just about every available officer took part in the search for the 2-year-old late Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning.

"The bloodhounds alerted on a particular area of the riverbank," Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said. "Our officers and other agencies' officers searched over and over in that shallow area."

In daylight, divers went back to that same spot and discovered the boy's body about six feet below the surface. 

"For anyone that's a parent, this is your absolute worst nightmare," Castor said. "We did everything we could to ensure there was a positive outcome to this, and unfortunately that's not the way it ended."

Castor described the case a "tragic accident" and not one of child neglect.

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