Police say death of three-year-old boy at Big Lagoon was an accident

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BIG LAGOON- A three-year-old boy was found dead in Big Lagoon on Monday in what authorities are calling a tragic accident. 

On Monday at about 3 p.m., a father and his three-year-old son were playing on the dock at Big Lagoon.

"It's my understanding that one of the parents was down at the dock with the child and there was a friend or neighbor that was accompanying them and they were letting the dogs play.  The dogs were playing in the water and the child was throwing a stick to the dog and the dog would jump off the dock and fetch it," said Sgt. Sam Williams with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

But then, according to police, the father turned away from the boy for a matter of seconds and when he looked back, the child was not in sight.

"The parent did enter the water immediately, attempted to locate the child and was unsuccessful," Sgt. Williams said.

Bystanders helped in the search.

"There were local members of the community on scene, rapidly, and people in the water in wetsuits, they were trying to locate the child as well.  There were a lot of assets available at the time, people to search,” said Sgt. Williams.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office responded and was joined by the California Highway Patrol, CAL FIRE, the U.S. Coast Guard and State Parks officials.

"The divers were searching the area in the water immediately around the dock.  One of the divers located the child in an area that was under the dock and was able to bring the child up," Sgt. Williams said.

Life saving efforts by medical personnel were unsuccessful and the boy was pronounced deceased shortly after 4 p.m. 

"The Sheriff's Office is not treating this as a criminal investigation at this point, it's been determined to be a tragic accident," said Sgt. Williams.

The identity of the child has not been released out of respect for the family’s privacy.  The official cause of death is expected to be released by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office on Wednesday.