Search for boy at Cape Charles Beach shifts to recovery effort

8-year-old Ace Horton (Photo provided by family)

CAPE CHARLES, Va. (WAVY) – The search for a young boy lost in the waters off Cape Charles Beach this weekend turned to a recovery effort Monday morning.

Laurie Naismith with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission said at daybreak Monday, side scan sonar was re-deployed. The commission also had three boats and an airplane continuing searches Monday.

According to Bill Mathis with the U.S. Coast Guard, they received notification of the missing boy around 3:40 p.m. Sunday. Cape Charles Police Chief Jim Pruitt said they were called to the scene around 3:30 p.m.

The grandmother of the boy spoke with at Cape Charles Beach. Gina Granby said the child’s name is Ace Horton and he is eight-years-old. Granby, Horton, and their extended family are from New Jersey. Granby said they are in town visiting relatives in Kiptopeke.

Granby said her grandson went to Cape Charles Beach with his aunt, uncle and cousins for the day. Horton was swimming with his aunt when he started to struggle. His aunt tried to grab him and they both went under. The child’s aunt was rescued by a good Samaritan jet skier, according to the Coast Guard.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk from Air Station Elizabeth City and a second helicopter searched for Horton from the air. The Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Resources Commission and police had search boats on the water.

“I appreciate everything they’re doing, I really do,” Granby said about the search and rescuers. “I just hope they find my grandson.”

Five divers searched an area off the end of the pier as Granby and her mother Mildred Smith looked on Monday. “Even if they find him, he’s gone. I have no more Ace. My baby’s gone,” Granby said.

She said her son, Ace’s father, called her during the search: “He called me screaming, ‘Mom, bring my son home.’ I just dropped the phone because I knew I couldn’t, and now I know I can’t, because it’s been too long. He’s gone.”

Granby described her grandson as playful. “He loves sports, oh my goodness. He’s on the basketball team, on the baseball team. His dad got him in everything, so I know they’re going to miss him, and he’s an honor roll student,” she said.

The family normally comes each summer from New Jersey, but this year, Ace’s five brothers and parents did not come down, Granby said. Ace insisted on coming to visit, and Granby came with him, she said.

“I know it was an accident thing that happened, but ain’t nothing we can do about it because it’s all in God’s hands,” said Smith, who is Ace’s great-grandmother.

Crews suspended the search around 6 p.m. Monday. They expect to resume searching with divers, boats, and a plane Tuesday at 7 a.m., according to Northampton County Sheriff David Doughty.

A pastor representing the family told there will be a vigil for Horton on the beach Tuesday at noon. If the weather is bad, it will be held at First Baptist Church Capeville. will continue to follow the progress of this search and post any updates as they become available.

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