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Police found the boy's body buried under a pile of collapsed dirt in a field near his home.
Authorities in two states had initially launched a massive manhunt for Zane Newton after being told he had been kidnapped. But the story turned out to be a lie.
Another 9-year-old playing with the Bakersfield fourth-grader told police that a masked man pulled up in a black car and started shooting at them. He said Zane may have been hit before the man pulled Zane into the car and kidnapped him.
Authorities in California and Nevada immediately issued an Amber Alert, but after an all-day search the playmate's story began to unravel.
Detectives learned the boys had actually been playing in a dirt drainage ditch near their homes. Rescuers rushed back to the scene in a desperate attempt to find the 9-year-old. Police say it appears the young boy fell into a hole and was buried when it collapsed around him.
"When he was located he was completely covered," said Sgt. Greg Terry of the Bakersfield Police Department. "There appeared to have been a total collapse of the area that he was in. The officers that discovered him had actually done so after they began digging."
Authorities say they don't know if Zane would have survived if help had been called immediately.
The accident has shaken everyone in the close-knit neighborhood as most know both boys.
Police say it appears this was a tragic accident.
Detectives have been questioning the other 9-year-old boy involved, but at this point they still don't know why he lied about what happened.