Coroner: Body of 5-year-old boy with autism found in canal

Jayliel Vega Batista. Image NBC

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Police are calling it “a tragic accident” after the body of a 5-year-old boy with autism was found in a canal about a quarter mile from a residence in eastern Pennsylvania where he wandered away from a New Year’s Eve party.

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim says an autopsy Monday will help determine when Jayliel Vega Batista entered the water at Canal Park in Allentown.

He had been missing since Thursday night.

Police say he was playing with a tablet computer when he reportedly wandered away barefoot and without a coat.

Search dogs tracked the boy’s scent to the canal, where the tablet was found early Saturday afternoon. That prompted police to call in divers who found the boy’s body about 8 feet from shore, in 6 feet of water. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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