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9-year-old boy with autism goes missing from Brooklyn IKEA, found dead hours later

Emergency responders discovered the body of nine-year-old Hasebul Nehan on the edge of a waterway after he disappeared from a nearby Ikea store in Brooklyn, N.Y., police reported. Sam Costanza/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The body of a nine-year-old boy was found in a waterway in Brooklyn, N.Y., after he disappeared from his family’s side during a trip to a nearby IKEA store on Wednesday.

Police said the boy, identified as Hasebul Nehan, was nonverbal and on the autism spectrum.

Authorities described Nehan’s death as a tragic accident. Criminal charges are not expected.

In an interview with CBS News, the boy’s mother, Abida Sultan, said a nanny had been watching Nehan while the group was inside the IKEA in Red Hook, a neighbourhood in western Brooklyn. She told the outlet Nehan had disappeared quickly from everyone’s sight without being noticed.

Sultan said the family searched for half an hour and pleaded with IKEA staff to check security cameras in the store.

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In surveillance footage, Nehan was observed exiting the store shortly before its closing at 9 p.m. E.T., according to police. Officials said Nehan then walked toward the Erie Basin, a harbour behind the home goods store.

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After Nehan was reported missing, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) were called to the area. Officials deployed officers, K9s, divers and aerial drones to search for the boy from the ground, sky and waterway.

Early Thursday morning, about three hours after his disappearance, Nehan’s body was reportedly discovered at the edge of the basin. Earlier, only his orange Crocs had been found by the water.

He was transported to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The exact cause of his death is not yet known.

Sultan said she never would have expected Nehan, who apparently had an affinity for bodies of water, to run to the basin.

“He doesn’t speak at all. That’s why he couldn’t call, ‘Ma, help me!'” Sultan told CBS.

A representative for IKEA said the company is saddened by the news of Nehan’s death.

“We at IKEA are devastated by this tragedy. Our hearts are with the family at this difficult time,” the statement reads.

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