MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The search for a missing 6-year-old boy in St. Cloud reached a tragic ending Friday morning.

Hamza Elmi went missing from his family’s home Thursday night before 9 p.m. Police began searching for him around his home. Elmi had autism and was nonverbal.

Crews from several jurisdictions took part in the search that eventually led them to the Mississippi River, where his body was found.

“This morning our worst nightmare has come to fruition and a family is without a child,” Police Chief William Anderson said.

Family members say Elmi had walked away from his home before. They say he always used to go to his special place, next door. Thursday night was different.

Elmi and his pink scooter went missing. Hours later, a tip led investigators to the river’s edge.

“He’s autistic, so he has the brain capacity of a one year old,” Hamza’s sister Fadumo Elmi said.

When he somehow disappeared from their home in North St. Cloud Thursday night, they immediately called police.

“He was last seen riding a scooter — don’t know where he just took off,” Fadumo Elmi said. “He’s done it a couple of times, but we knew his favorite place he would always just go next door they have a playground and he loves to play with the sand he would just always go there I don’t know what happened this time.”

Police searched a 160-square block area around the family’s home, hoping the boy had wandered into someone’s back yard as he did in the past. Crews along with family and friends searched through the night.

On Friday around 8:30 a.m., police got a tip.

“We did receive tips. We did find the scooter that was mentioned, one of those scooters being here at this river site,” Commander Jeff Oxton said.

The search of the neighborhood expanded into a search of the Mississippi River. Hamza Elmi’s pink scooter was found in the water, so divers went in looking for any signs of the boy.

“After conducting a water search, that’s when we did end up finding the body,” Oxton said.

Police say they don’t expect foul play. Investigators say the circumstances surrounding this incident indicate that it was a tragic accident.

Reg Chapman