Lakeland community remembers autistic boy, 6, found dead in pond

By Trevor Pettiford , Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, August 12, 2017, 8:40 AM EDT

A Lakeland community gathered Friday evening to remember a 6-year-old boy who died last Friday after going missing.

It’s been a week since the 6-year-old autistic boy wandered away from his home and drowned in a retention pond.

It’s been a week of hell for the Roach family who had to bury their son. 

Although he had the mind of an 18-month-old, his family realized he had a heart that touched the young and old in the community.

Several dozen people, even some of the deputies who helped searched for Adam, gathered in remembrance of the young child lost too soon.

Even strangers who wanted to show support stood in the dark, dampness to offer light and hope to a family that still grieves.

“The light would represent Adam’s life. It shined bright. For anybody that knew him, his love, his laughter, did shine bright,” Pastor Ronnie Morrow, of Harvest Church, said.

Adam’s mother said he was more than a light, he was child that beat the odds almost every day of his life.

“He was only given a 25% chance of walking. He walked when he was 3. They said that he wouldn’t be able to drink out of a straw. He drank out of a straw perfectly fine. Everything, ever obstacle he overcame. I always thought that he would have a lone life span, but I always knew in the back of my mind that I would have to give him back to God one day. That he wasn’t mine forever. That he was here for a reason, to teach me a lesson, and I think with us all, he taught us a lesson,” Brittany Roach said.

A makeshift memorial has been created near the Roach’s home. Brittany said she stops by it several times a day as a source of strength and a reminder of how much her son meant to everyone who knew him.

Family and friends have also started a petition to ask state legislators to make it mandatory that all retention ponds be fenced in.