RIVIERA BEACH — A 10-year-old boy with autism drowned Sunday in a pond in Riviera Beach's Turtle Cay community, city police said Monday.
Tahfin Chowdhury was found dead after an hourslong search that began shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, when the child's family reported him missing, police said.
Police initially released a statement Sunday describing the missing child as nonverbal and autistic and said he liked water. Tahfin lived with his family in Turtle Cay, along Military Trail south of Blue Heron Boulevard.
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Multiple units searched throughout the afternoon and evening until Tahfin's body was found in a neighboring pond.
"Our hearts are with the Chowdhury family during this unfathomable time," city police said in a statement released Monday.
The drowning death is at least the sixth involving a child this year in Palm Beach County, according to state records.
The Florida Department of Children and Families reports five confirmed child drowning deaths in Palm Beach County, not including Sunday's incident. There was six child drowning deaths countywide in 2021 and five in 2020, according to DCF records.
The state records show that the most recent incident prior to Sunday occurred in September when a 5-year-old autistic boy was found dead in a pond after being reported missing from his home. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office reported on Sept. 10 that 5-year-old Dahud Jolicoeur was found dead in a waterway about a block from his home in suburban West Palm Beach.
Deputies said at the time that Dahud was autistic and nonverbal and could not swim.
Drowning is among the leading causes of death for people with autism, the National Autism Association reports.
"Children with autism are particularly attracted to water," Anna Stewart, manager of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County said Monday.
"It's really important that guardians use layers of protection inside and outside the home, door alarms, window alarms, fencing," Stewart said. "Obviously, supervision is most important, but we know that you can't watch a child 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
She encouraged parents and guardians of children with autism to sign the children up for swimming lessons. The Drowning Prevention Coalition offers reduced-cost lessons countywide for children ages 2-12 who cope either with autism or related disabilities. The coalition also offers reduced-cost lessons for caregivers.
"Oftentimes, we find that the adults don't know how to swim as well, so we will provide swimming lessons for the immediate caregiver," Stewart said.
The program begins April 1, and those interested are asked to visit the Drowning Prevention Coalition's website at www.pbcgov.org/dpc for more information.
Julius Whigham II is a criminal justice and public safety reporter for The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @JuliusWhigham. Help support our work: Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Boy with autism found drowned in Riviera Beach pond