New Mexico crews try to reach child's body in hole

Crews are digging a second hole in an effort to reach the body of a child wedged in a narrow 30-foot hole in the backyard of a southern New Mexico home.

This image provided by the New Mexico State Police shows 4 year old Samuel Jones in an undated photo. (AP Photo/New Mexico State Police)

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Crews are digging a second hole in an effort to reach the body of a child wedged in a narrow 30-foot hole in the backyard of a southern New Mexico home.

Carlsbad police said they are fairly sure it's the body of 4-year-old Samuel Jones, who was reported missing from his home next door on Saturday.

An Amber Alert in effect for him was canceled Sunday night.

"We have reports of one missing child, and this child is right next door to the missing child's house," Carlsbad police spokeswoman Lt. Jennifer Moyers said, adding that authorities cannot be positive the body is Samuel's until it's recovered.

Recovery efforts began Sunday afternoon, with a large tracked excavator along with metal shoring typically used in pipeline construction projects. A specialized search and rescue team from Roswell went Carlsbad to oversee the operations.

"It's a little tricky in that you have to start to dig kind of away from the hole and dig at a slant until you get down deep enough to go laterally," Moyers said. "They're going to have to put in retaining so that the dirt doesn't cave in on what they've dug out."

A renewed house-to-house search had just started shortly after daybreak Sunday morning when a detective found the 14-inch-wide hole in the backyard of the home next door to Samuel's house, Moyers said.

The detective shined his flashlight down the hole and saw what appeared to be a body dressed in clothing Samuel was last wearing, Moyers said. Searchers later sent a camera down the hole and confirmed a child was about 30 feet down. Temperature and oxygen levels were later taken and showed no signs of life.

"The conditions are not favorable, not survivable," Moyers said.

The boy's mother and father were told of the discovery while at the scene.

There is no indication of foul play, and police know of no history of child abuse at the home, but detectives are treating the case as a homicide as a precaution, Moyers said.

Samuel lived in the home with his parents and two older siblings, a boy and girl ages 6 and 7, Moyers said. Some young cousins were at the house Saturday when the boy was last seen playing in the yard.

The rural neighborhood is a mix of homes and vacant lots. A 4-foot chain link fence separates the boy's home from his neighbor's. It's possible the boy could have climbed the fence and simply fallen into the hole, which was dry and may be deeper than where the body was wedged, Moyers said. There are no curbs or sidewalks in the neighborhood on the city's south side.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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