ATLANTIC CITY — Dozens of first responders searched the waters off the Absecon Inlet Tuesday but could not find the body of a 10-year-old North Carolina boy swept away by ocean currents Sunday.
Tamika Wilder, the mother of Khitan Devine, waited, grief stricken on the beach Tuesday, hoping the searchers would find the body of her son; Devine disappeared while swimming off Atlantic City more than a mile south of the Inlet off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
“We’re at the beach waiting to see if they start (searching) again,” she said. “I wait, I go on walks . . . I don’t even know where my baby’s at.”
Wilder, of Goldsboro, N.C., arrived in Atlantic City Monday night. She went to the beach Tuesday with her brothers and Khitan’s father’s family to watch the responders work.
The renewed search was prompted by a fisherman’s report of a floating object that resembled a body.
Four separate teams were following up on the sighting, said Fire Chief Dennis Brooks, with at least one personal watercraft.
Brooks, however, said he doesn’t think the sighting was of Devine.
"It doesn't fit the profile," Brooks said. "(The body) should turn up closer to where he went down."
The same surf conditions that swept the boy and his family toward the jetty around 7 p.m. Sunday hampered recovery operations early this week. Divers had already been called off Tuesday morning before the sighting was reported at about 10:35 a.m.
Deputy Fire Chief Vincent Granese said he expected divers to resume their work around noon today. So far, he said, the searchers had no fix on where or when the body could show up.
“The surf conditions are not conducive to put our manpower in at this time,” he said. “We’re going to have to wait until conditions get better to put guys back in.”
Rod Aluise, chief of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, said lifeguardss on duty would continue to keep an eye out from the beach.
Wilder said she had dropped her son off at his father’s home in Philadelphia, where Khitan spends each summer, on Saturday. The 10-year-old learned how to swim at school, she said, although he only visited the beach during his summers in the area.
“He knew how to swim, so I just, I hold out hope,” she said. “I’m still praying; I still believe. I can’t stop believing.”
As a thunderclouds rolled over Atlantic City Tuesday, the lifeguards told the family to head inland. Wilder said they waited on the boardwalk and nearby restaurants, hoping the storm would clear and the search could continue.
“We’re just out here waiting, still waiting,” she said. “I don’t know what else to do.”
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