A witness saw the boy after he'd fallen into the trap, pulled him out and alerted his mother.
"Our hearts go out to the family of this child, who are right now suffering unspeakable, unimaginable tragedy", he said.
"He was not a missing person in the traditional sense but he was with his mother and gone from his mother's care for a brief period of time- less than minutes-then the 911 call was immediately made", Camp added, reported Spectrum News.
"The lid gave way and he fell into the grease trap", he said. It reportedly popped open and she fell in and drowned.
"This is the worst thing that you can encounter as a police officer", Camp said.
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According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the child was later pronounced dead at Strong Memorial Hospital. Camp said the tank, which was 6 feet from the back door of the restaurant, held used grease in a liquefied form; restaurants use the tanks to avoid putting grease into the sewer system. "As there is an ongoing police investigation, we have no further comment at this time".
In a statement, Tim Horton's said: 'What occurred today was a tragedy and on behalf of the Tim Hortons family, we offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the young boy who passed away'.
A captain with the Rochester Police Department called it a "horrifying episode".
The three-foot-wide traps are meant to dispose of used grease from the kitchen.
Camp said police would be following up with the district attorney's office, OSHA, and the medical examiner's office. In January 2019 Alabama lawmakers passed a measure tightening regulations on traps to make them more secure.