Coroner: Body of 5-year-old boy with autism found in canal

A search crew heads out from the command center Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Allentown, Pa., as the search continues for Jayliel Vega Batista, a missing 5-year-old autistic boy who wandered off from a New Year's Eve party on Thursday night. (Chris Shipley/The Morning Call via AP)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Police are calling it “a tragic accident” after the body of a 5-year-old boy with autism was found in a canal about a quarter mile from a residence in eastern Pennsylvania where he wandered away from a New Year’s Eve party.

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim says an autopsy Monday will help determine when Jayliel Vega Batista entered the water at Canal Park in Allentown.

He had been missing since Thursday night.

Police say he was playing with a tablet computer when he reportedly wandered away barefoot and without a coat.

Search dogs tracked the boy’s scent to the canal, where the tablet was found early Saturday afternoon. That prompted police to call in divers who found the boy’s body about 8 feet from shore, in 6 feet of water.

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