Missing Mesa boy found dead in canal

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

MESA, Ariz. -- Police say a Mesa boy with Down Syndrome who went missing Saturday morning has been found dead in a canal behind his home.

The boy's family reportedly heard their dog barking loudly outside about 9 a.m. and found the dog trying to get out of the canal near Power and Ray roads.

The family pulled the dog out of the water and realized 11-year-old Carvel "C.J." Udall was missing, according to police.

The family called police, and an active search for the boy began. The Gilbert and ASU police departments and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office assisted Mesa police with the search.

The sheriff's office diving team recovered the boy's body from the canal about 1:20 p.m., not far from where the dog was rescued, police said.

It was originally reported that C.J. went missing while walking his dog, but investigators believe he and the dog accessed the canal through an opening in the fence around the home.

C.J.'s uncle said the family had done everything possible to secure the home but the boy wandered off during a family gathering. He also said family members were very attentive to C.J. and did not allow him to leave home alone.

"He was just adventurous," the uncle said. "He had a whole world out there to explore. He was a Down's child and he was just very excited about life and what life had to offer, and this is a kid's playground and it's just a tragedy."

Police said there is no reason to suspect foul play.

"There is no indication that this was anything but a very tragic, tragic incident." said Mesa Police Lt. Ed Wessing.

Statement from C.J.'s family:

We are heartbroken at the loss of our most amazing and talented son, C.J. Udall. His life ended too abruptly but we know that he has returned to his Heavenly Father and is with his grandpa and namesake, Carvel Jackson.

We ask those moved with compassion at our loss to consider making a donation to a fund that has been set up to honor the memory of C.J. The fund will benefit the organizations that our son loved and that profoundly touched his life.

Donations may be made to the C.J. Udall Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank Branch.