GASTONIA, N.C. — The FBI released the call from an employee reporting 6-year-old Maddox Ritch missing from Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia.
Rick Foxx said he made the call Saturday afternoon from the park’s office after Maddox's father, Ian Ritch, approached him.
Foxx said he can’t stop thinking about that day.
“The dad approached me and said he lost his kid,” Foxx said. “I said, ‘When is the last time you seen him?’ He said that the kids, they were coming around the track, and the kid got away from him.”
When Foxx called police, the dispatcher asked how long the boy had been missing.
Foxx said, “I’d say it’s been almost an hour now. We searched everywhere.”
The dispatcher then asked, “Are the parents there?”
Foxx answered, “Yeah, they’re here. They’re out looking for him.”
Foxx said Maddox was last seen by the pier and the trees, although he couldn’t remember the boy’s name during the call.
Ian Ritch said he was with another adult at the park when his son took off running and vanished.
The other adult has not been identified, but authorities said it was not the boy’s mother.
Foxx said Ian Ritch seemed out of breath and looked tired.
“I told him to stay by the office while I go search for the kid,” Foxx said.
He said he jumped in a golf cart and started searching the park for Maddox. After several rounds and no success, he called police.
Foxx said officers arrived and so did Maddox’s mother, Carrie Ritch.
“The mother was really frantic. She was hysterical,” Foxx said. “She got out of the car, and one of the sheriff’s deputies had to calm her.”
Channel 9 asked Foxx about Ian Ritch's demeanor that day, and he said it wasn’t the same as the mother’s reaction.
“He didn’t act like a concerned parent, like I would act, or any concerned parent would act,” Foxx said.
Five days into the search, Foxx said he’s still hopeful.
"I pray and hope they find that kid alive, I really do. I really hope so,” Foxx said.
Foxx said he's spoken with both police and the FBI.
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