Heather Navarro

Family of Boy With Autism Who Drowned in a Park Pool Demands Answers

A heartbreaking end to a search came late Sunday evening after a boy with autism was found dead in an Inglewood park pool, police said.

The body of 9-year-old boy named Zavire Dion Portis was discovered in a pool in a 55-acre Inglewood park after the boy wandered away from his mother's car just before 4 p.m., police said.

The boy's mother got out of the car to get water from the fountain, and when she returned, the boy's two sibling told her he wandered away, Lt. Neal Cochran said.

Authorities began scouring Edward Vincent Jr Park in the 700 block of E. Warren Lane as they implored the public for help in search of Zavire, who was nonverbal. 

The two siblings in the car were also special needs children who couldn't provide information to investigators, a local wire service reported. 

The Los Angeles County Fire Department confirmed they responded to a call at 9:49 p.m. of a drowning at the park, about five hours after he went missing. 

Inglewood police said around 10 p.m., neighborhood kids went by the pool, possibly for a night swim, and found Zavire at the bottom.

The children told officers they dove in and pulled his body to the surface, but he was dead already. 

Police said it was likely an accident, but they were going to investigate all possible avenues. 

"On behalf of the City of Inglewood, I give condolences and prayers to the family of Zavire Dion Portis, a 9-year old child who died in an accidental drowning yesterday at Edward Vincent Park," Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said in a statement. 

Monday, family members were demanding answers as to how the boy got access to the locked pool area. 

Zavire's aunt and sister visited the park, trying to figure out the answer for themselves. 

"I just want to know how did he get in there. How did he get in there? We went around this whole pool. Everything is locked up. How did he climb over that gate?" Kim Portis, the boy's aunt, said.

Portis said there is no way the boy could have climbed the 7-foot-tall iron fence. 

His family also said they had last seen Zavire with his mom a month ago. 

Zavire's father, Zedric Portis, said that Zavire was in foster care, and was visiting his mother at the park when the tragedy occurred. 

NBCLA's Darsha Philips contributed to this report.

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