Autopsy: 6-year-old Maddox Ritch drowned accidentally

Maddox Scott Ritch, 6-Year-Old With Autism Missing in Gastonia, North Carolina / Photo: Gastonia Police Department / (MGN)

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) - Authorities say a 6-year-old boy who disappeared after running off in a North Carolina park died of accidental drowning.

The Gastonia Police Department said Thursday that a state medical examiner's report found the cause of death for Maddox Ritch was consistent with drowning. It found no indication the death was anything other than accidental.

Police Chief Robert Helton said his office doesn't expect to file criminal charges.

Maddox went missing while at a Gaston County park with his father Sept. 22. His body was found days later in a nearby creek.

The boy's father has said he lost sight of Maddox after the autistic boy broke into a sprint and ran off. The father has said diabetic neuropathy made it hard for him to run after the boy.

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