The parents of Austen Mark Alward called the Sheriff’s Office just after midnight to report they had been searching for their son and could not find him. They told responding deputies they had been looking for him for about 30 minutes after realizing he was missing from their home. The family lives on Sunset Boulevard in Key Largo.
All available deputies from the Sheriff’s Office responded, along with officers from Florida Highway Patrol and Customs and Border Protection who were in the area and heard the call. Officers and family members searched the home and surrounding area for about 20 minutes before the child was found. He had been hit by a car on the southbound side of the highway and was in the median.
Key Largo Fire Rescue units had also been notified the child was missing and were on their way to help search when he was found. They arrived quickly and the child was transported to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A notice to be on the lookout was issued for any vehicle headed southbound with front end damage. Just before 1 a.m., Deputy John Gabay stopped a car at the 23 mile marker of the highway whose driver said he thought he may have hit something at the 99 mile marker of the highway. The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting the accident investigation.