Child’s body found on Shell Key, believed to be missing boy

Cameron Bullard. Family photo
Cameron Bullard. Family photo

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla (WFLA)- On Monday, the desperate search for a boy who washed away into the gulf came to a grim end.

The body of 9-year-old Cameron Bullard was found two days after he vanished while playing at St. Pete Beach.

On Saturday afternoon, Bullard was in shallow water when he vanished beneath a powerful wave. Sadly, he was not a swimmer.

A massive search was immediately dispatched by land, sea and air. Sgt. Glenn Wilson with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team said, “Without that closure, it’d be a very difficult thing for the family to endure.”

After a massive search, his body was found at 8:30 Monday morning on Shell Key, about a mile south from where he disappeared. Chief Joe Westerman of the Manatee County Marine Rescue Division said, “A drowning with a submersion can happen within 20 to 60 seconds…that quick.”

He says beachgoers need to use extra caution if they don’t know how to swim, even if they’re in shallow water. Westerman said, “You can never be too careful when you come to the beach, and the reason why is the water is unpredictable.”

Westerman says inexperienced swimmers should use life jackets or personal floatation devices. Also, parents or adults should be nearby at all times.

Westerman added, “If you’re pulled back out with a receding wave and you don’t know how to swim, that’s when dangerous situations happen.”

The beach where Bullard vanished doesn’t have any lifeguards. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri emphasized Bullard’s family did everything in their power to care for the boy. This was just a freak accident that happened very quickly.

Sheriff Gualtieri said, “The kids were being supervised…I’m not going to speculate, would a lifeguard had even made a difference?” Gualtieri added that Bullard’s family is going through a difficult time right now. Until Monday morning, they were still holding out hope that he may be alive. Now they’re going to make plans for his funeral.

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