Officials pull missing 9-year-old boy's body from the Duck River

(Submitted to WZTV).

Rescue crews found a missing 9-year-old boy's body in the Duck River on Thursday.

Crews on the scene said Dreyton Sims' body was found three and a half miles down the river from Fisherman's Park, where he went missing.

Families who had held out hope got the devastating news from EMA Director Scott Johnson on Thursday afternoon.

"One of our water recover teams recovered what appears to be a juvenile male about three and a half miles down river that body transported hospital," Johnson said. "The family has been informed; the mother and father. I don't have a positive ID yet."

Heavy rain and flood waters made the search for Sims' body difficult since he went missing on July 4.

Sims was swimming with his 11-year-old brother when they were swept under by a strong current. A bystander was able to rescue Dreyton's brother, but Dreyton had been missing since then.

For two days, Dreyton's best friend Chris Watts, 9, joined family and friends waiting along the river bank.

"I really loved him, and I didn't want him to pass away," Chris said.

More like brothers than friends, Chris and Dreyton Sims did everything together.

"They got up every morning and matched clothes, every morning," said Chris' Mother, Kristina Watts. "He came out with his socks in remembrance of Dreyton."

Drayton's death is a sad conclusion to difficult and dangerous search, a search that united the community.

"We're praying for y'all, and we're still here for y'all, as long as they need us we're here," said Volunteer Carmen Breedlove.

"I hope they find it in their hearts to forgive who's involved and continue to pray and grow strength to get on and more children to focus on and live for," said Romitchus Starnes, a family said.

Friends and family held a vigil Wednesday night to pray that Dreyton would be found safe. Dreyton's 10th birthday is been on Sunday.

"It's like your heart just sunk and this family needs help because it could be anyone's child, and it just happens to be our friend's child," said Jacklynne Taylor, told Fox 17 at the vigil on Wednesday.

Taylor, a family friend, set up a GoFundMe for Dreyton's family and another one is set up here.

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