Rankin Lake Park reopens following death of 6-year-old Maddox Ritch

- As the Gastonia community continues to come to terms with 6-year-old Maddox Ritch's death, the park where he went missing is now back open. 

Hundreds of investigators and volunteers combed through Rankin Lake State Park over the past weekend and a half. Some of them coming from as far away as Durham to help find Maddox Ritch. 

The 6-year-old boy who had autism and was non-verbal went missing while visiting the park with his father. His father said the boy wandered off while they were on a walk. 

Related: Body found in Long Creek positively identified as Maddox Ritch 

After a six day search, Maddox Ritch's body was found about a mile away in Long Creek. 

"Like, none of us understand how this happened or what's going on. How do we fix this? We can't. We're feeling a lot of emotions. It's very hard." 

Link: Funeral services set for 6-year-old Maddox Ritch

As the community comes to gripes with what happened, they're also preparing to say goodbye to Maddox. There will be a visitation on Thursday evening from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Raymer Kepner Funeral Home in Huntersville. His funeral will take place at the same location at 11 a.m. Friday. 

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