Missing Nampa toddler found dead downstream in nearby canal

Mason Cunningham
Mason Cunningham

Mason Cunningham, 18 months old, was found dead in an irrigation canal Wednesday morning, about 12 hours after he went missing from his family’s yard, the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office reports.

The toddler disappeared from the family’s rural Nampa yard about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, and family members, law enforcement and tracking dogs searched in and along Ten Mile Creek until 2 a.m., CCSO Capt. Bill Adams said. When daylight returned, searchers were back in force, with numerous law enforcement agencies, a Nampa police drone and an air ambulance to assist in the search along with volunteers.

Around 9 a.m. Wednesday, the little boy’s body was found in the canal about 4 miles downstream, near Madison Road, Adams said.

The canal runs alongside the yard, about 100 yards from the family’s home in the 6800 block of Ustick Road near 11th Avenue North Extension. Mason was in an unfenced portion of the yard with a family member, who took their eyes off him “for just a minute or so” to go to the back of the property to change a sprinkler valve, Adams said. Most of the large yard is securely fenced, but the child was playing in an area near the garage that allows canal access, officials said.

The child’s father immediately suspected the toddler had fallen into the canal and jumped in himself, searching in the water for several blocks before others pulled him out of the swift-flowing water, Adams said.

An autopsy will confirm the cause of death, but no foul play is suspected, Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker said.

Adams thanked the community and other law enforcement agencies for “a huge outpouring of support.”

Sheriff’s deputies asked everyone to be aware of the dangers of the steep-sided irrigation canals, which are easy to get into and hard to get out of.

“We just want to remind the community to be aware of these canals, especially with toddlers and infants, that the water’s fast-moving and it’s extremely dangerous,” Adams said.

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

Nicole Blanchard contributed.