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The body of a missing 4-year-old boy was found Monday morning in Minnehaha Creek after an intensive search, Hopkins police said.

Law enforcement confirmed the body to be that of Waeys Ali Mohamed, who was last seen Sunday morning, Hopkins police Capt. Craig Kreiling said Monday at a news conference. The boy's body was found in the creek around 10:40 a.m. about 500 yards downstream from his family's apartment building by a volunteer assisting with the search effort, Kreiling said.

Kreiling extended his condolences to both Waeys' family and Hopkins' Somali community. While there is an active investigation, evidence points to this being a "tragic accident" where the boy left the apartment building on his own, Kreiling said.

"There is no room to try and blame anybody else right now; this is a horrible, tragic accident from everything we are able to determine," Kreiling said.

Waeys Ali Mohamed was a “tragic accident” in which the 4-year-old left his apartment building on his own, a police official said.
Waeys Ali Mohamed was a “tragic accident” in which the 4-year-old left his apartment building on his own, a police official said.

Provided by Jaylani Hussein

The boy had autism and was nonverbal, according to the alert issued Sunday. Police suspect the boy drowned, Kreiling said, adding the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office will determine the cause of death.

A small memorial of toys, flowers, candles and balloons was on display Monday near the creek. Nearby residents visited to pay their respects.

Danielle Danielson of Plymouth said she spent hours searching in the woods and knocking on doors to ask if neighbors had seen Waeys. She said some volunteers were out until midnight with flashlights and that others waded into the creek or paddled in canoes.

"It's just so weird because we were searching this whole area yesterday, all day long in the same place where they found him," she said.

"It's just horrible that a young life was snuffed out early, and I feel so sorry for the family," said Barbara Addington of Hopkins.

The death has also rocked the Somali and Muslim community. Jaylani Hussein, executive director with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was at the wooded area Monday, and said he's heard many in the Somali community are shaken.

"People in the community feel gut-wrenched and were hoping to hear good news," Hussein said.

Hundreds of volunteers searched for Waeys, Kreiling said, as well as numerous law enforcement agencies.

"We have not stopped since our initial report we received [Sunday] in trying to locate him," Kreiling said.

The captain said the area was difficult to search because of the dense foliage and the creek's high water level.

In 2021, another child with autism died from a suspected drowning in the Twin Cities metro. Iklas Abdullahi Ahmed, a 2-year-old girl, was found dead in a retention pond in Edina after an 18-hour search.

Dr. Linda Quan, a Seattle-based physician who has studied drowning and prevention of it for 40 years, said drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4, and is a greater risk for those with autism.

While it is more difficult to teach young autistic children to swim, there has been growing interest in it, Quan said.

"If you live near water, get your kids in swim lessons; even when they're young," Quan said.

She also emphasized the importance of building a fence when possible to prevent children from entering water.

A fundraiser to assist Waeys' family with funeral costs says he was raised by a single mother.

"It's impossible to fully capture who Waeys was in words," the fundraiser reads. "He was a vibrant, funny, and kind-hearted young boy who brought joy to everyone around him."