Missing 6-year-old Westford boy dies after being found in local lake

The child had escaped his home through a window, prompting an hours-long search

An autistic 6-year-old boy who went missing in Westford, Massachusetts, on Sunday night has died after he was found in a lake shortly after midnight.

Westford police said they responded to a residence on Chestnut Road shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday for a report of a missing 6-year-old. The boy was identified as Zayan Mayanja, a non-verbal autistic child who had escaped his home through a window.



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All available Westford police officers immediately began searching for the child on surrounding streets, nearby parks and neighborhoods. K-9 and drone teams were activated, a boat was launched on nearby Nabnasset Lake, the Massachusetts State Air Wing was deployed and a reverse 911 alert was issued to area residents.

Around 12:08 a.m. Monday, police said Zayan was found in the water of Nabnasset Lake behind a residence on Lake Shore Drive South. Life-saving measures, including CPR, were initiated by the initial officers who found the child and later the Westford Fire Department. He was taken by ambulance to Lowell General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"The Westford Police Department extends its deepest condolences to Zayan’s family and friends and ask that members of the public and media respect the family’s privacy during this tragic time," Westford police said in a statement.

The investigation remains ongoing, and is being conducted by Westford police and state police troopers assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney's Office.

Westford police said Zayan was a student in the Westford Public Schools, and grief counselors will be made available to any friends or family members who need assistance.

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