- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

LITTLE RIVER, S.C. (AP) - Hundreds of emergency workers and volunteers searched through Christmas Day for a 4-year-old autistic child who disappeared from his grandmother’s house near a town on the South Carolina coast.

Lt. Raul Denis of the Horry County Police said 4-year-old Jayden Morrison was reported missing about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Several hundred people turned out to help in the search Thursday but as it approached dusk, there was still no sign of the child, he said.

“No luck yet,” Denis said, adding that the search was expected to continue around-the-clock.

Divers searched ponds in a 5-square mile area near the community on the North Carolina border and searchers do not believe the child, who was last seen wearing only pajamas, drowned, he said. Drones, helicopters and four-wheelers also were being used in the search.

The child’s mother, Tabatha Morrison, told local media the family arrived at her mother’s house on Christmas Eve from New York.

Morrison and Jayden’s father, Andre Morrison, pleaded for help in finding their son.

“The more (police and fire officials) claim that he isn’t in the waters around here, the more other worries seep in,” Andre Morrison told WPDE-TV. “Hopefully no one abducted him. If someone did, just bring him back.”

Tabatha Morrison said her son is autistic and non-communicative and won’t respond if his name is called. She said he likely would not be able to find his way home because he is not familiar with his grandmother’s neighborhood.

Denis said authorities do not think the child was abducted but aren’t leaving anything to chance. He said they were checking the whereabouts of registered sex offenders in the area.

A helicopter from the State Law Enforcement Division in Columbia arrived on the scene Thursday.

Temperatures in the area were expected to drop into the lower 40s on Thursday night.

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