MESA – Search crews have found the body of a 7-year-old boy who fell into a Mesa canal while trying to save his friend.
Police say four boys, ages 6 to 11 years old, were playing by the canal near University Drive and Ellsworth Road around 5 p.m. Thursday.
The 11-year-old boy either slipped in or dove in the water and his 7-year-old friend, Aldo Rubio, jumped in to help. The 11-year-old made it out of the canal, but Rubio did not. The three other boys ran for help.
Search teams scoured the cold, murky waters for several hours, looking for signs of Rubio. As the news spread, family members and neighbors joined in the rescue effort.
By 9 p.m. Thursday most of the search was scaled back because of darkness, cold temperatures and choppy water. In some parts of the canal the water is 20 feet deep.
Crews were back on the scene Friday and recovered the boy's body at approximately 9:30 a.m.
Rubio was a first-grade student at Zaharis Elementary School.
The school released the following statement:
Aldo is a "fabulous" kid who showed great concern for others. He always had a smile on his face and had a great imagination. He enjoyed sports, especially baseball.
Aldo is part of the Zaharis Elementary family and he will be greatly missed by all. The students and staff members are saddened by his tragic loss, and want to extend their thoughts and condolences to his family.
School staff shared the news with students this morning. Counselors will remain available to support staff and children who are grieving. A letter has been prepared for distribution with students today - it will alert parents to the sad situation and provide information about coping with grief.