Boy with autism drowns in South Tampa pond after leaving apartment

A young boy with autism drowned Wednesday after wandering away from his South Tampa home while his mother was asleep, Tampa police said.

According to investigators, April Sikes was taking an afternoon nap at her home at Clipper Bay Apartments on S. Lois Avenue. Police said she locked the door to her apartment, but somehow her 4-year-old son managed to leave.

When Sikes woke up, she realized her son was gone and searched for about 20 minutes before calling the police.

Officers found David Sikes in a pond a short distance from his home. He was unresponsive.

Police tried to revive him but they were unsuccessful.

"It's a tragedy," said Eddie Durkin, a spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department. "Nobody wants to go through this... It's just an awful thing, an awful day for this family."

Experts recommend parents of children with autism teach their kids how to swim as early as possible and also make sure they know the dangers of water.

"More than 90 percent of parents of autistic children say that their children have a tendency to wander," said FOX 13's Dr. Joette Giovinco. "That becomes even more dangerous because there is an attraction to water and, in fact, drowning is one of the leading causes of death of these children."

Autism experts also suggest parents try to prevent wandering by arming the doors and windows to their homes.