2-year-old dead after apparent drowning in Canton

CANTON, N.Y. -- Two year-old Zephaniah Stewart had only been reported missing for 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon.

“She told me that her child was missing; two years old and what he was wearing," said Champion Mobile Home Park resident Luis George.

Emergency responders, police and neighbors searched the mobile home park. George lives in the park and saw Stewart’s mother crying. He immediately jumped to action.

“I started following along the river bank, [and] everybody said they did the same thing. So I continued searching the river bank, just to make sure," said George.

He searched with several others from the neighborhood for about 15 minutes when the search took a tragic turn.

“Then I heard her screaming and once I heard the screaming ... I ran towards the scream," George said. "And she was holding the boy up in the air because she couldn’t get out of the water. So I went and grabbed the boy, held him tight to me and ran to the closest EMT."

Stewart was unresponsive when he was pulled from the creek. He was taken to a Syracuse hospital and later died.

George spent Tuesday night unable to sleep. He learned of the boy’s death Wednesday morning.

"Grabbing him, I felt he was a part of me, like my son, my kid. What can you do?" said George.

He says it’s the type of tragedy that will stay with the neighborhood forever.

State police are investigating the boy’s death. The cause and manner of death are pending an autopsy.

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