Authorities remove a boat after searching the Lehigh River for Jayliel Vega Batista in Allentown, Pa. on Jan. 2, 2016.
Chris Shipley—The Morning Call/AP
January 3, 2016 3:56 PM EST

The body of Jayliel Vega Batista, a 5-year-old boy who went missing from a family New Year’s Eve party, was found in a nearby Lehigh county canal on Saturday.

The young child with autism is presumed to have wandered off from a party with family, where he was last seen playing on a tablet with other children, the Guardian reports. Authorities do not believe there was foul play in his death.

“Preliminarily, this is being considered a tragic accident,” said Allentown police chief Keith Morris at a news conference on Saturday. Members of the Allentown, Pa., community came together in a two-day search for Batista following reports that he was missing.

After police confirmed his death at the news conference, Allentown residents held a candlelight vigil of more than 75 people, the Morning Call reports.


Write to Julia Zorthian at

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