Family: Boy died a 'hero', saving drowning sister

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MANATEE COUNTY - After an exhaustive search this weekend for a missing 6-year-old boy, authorities found the child's body submerged in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lamontea Taylor and three other children were caught in the strong currents of Longboat Pass late Saturday afternoon. The other children survived, however, Lamontea did not.

As early as Sunday morning, authorities had said they did not expect to find Lamontea alive. That expectation was confirmed early Monday after his body was recovered by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers about three quarters of a mile offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Just after 10 am Monday, the family of Lamontea got the news they had feared since Saturday evening: that the 6-year-old was dead. "He is our hero and we will always remember him as our hero," says Amanda Jones, the rescued girl's mother.

Friends and family say Lamontea died trying to save the life of his 5-year-old half-sister Natalie, after they were swept away by the strong currents of Longboat Pass near Coquina Beach. “Lamontea tried to save me and then he pushed me up out of the water and someone came to get me,” said Natalie.

All day Sunday, search parties were combing the water looking for any sign of Lamontea, who authorities did not expect to find alive.

After Monday's developments, his family remains distraught. "It’s sad but at least its closure for the family, it helps them put an end to this and they can move on from here."

With the summer beach season underway, authorities say this horrible tragedy should be an eye-opener to everyone, everywhere. “You know I would hope that everybody would understand that when you see signs that say no swimming, and hopefully any children that have their parents with them, that you don’t let them in the water because these currents around here are really strong," says," says Sgt. Leonard Diaz of the Bradenton Beach Police Department.

Some questions were asked on Monday as to whether or not investigators could have missed the body earlier since it was discovered in an area that had been searched. Authorities though say there is no way to know exactly where the body traveled given all of the different currents in the area.

No charges will be filed in this case.