A search for a little boy turned tragic in North Carolina today, adding to an overall storm death toll that now stands at 28.
During the peak of the flooding rains on Sunday night, a woman decided to ignore Flood Warnings and requests from public officials not to drive. She bucked her son into his car seat and drove out to visit relatives. The driver, Daiza Lee, and her 1 year old son, Kaiden Lee-Welch, were the only occupants of the car. The Charlotte, NC woman came upon barricades which were put up to close Highway 218 due to flooding. Rather than turn around, Lee decided to drive around the barricades. It was then she eventually come across the flood water responsible for the road closure.
“I was hydroplaning. I was trying to do everything I could and it got worse when water gets in your car. You start to panic, you start to freak, you think you’re sinking fast. Everything just happened too fast,” the woman explained to a local news reporter. “When water came in I was trying to calm my son. He was confused, that’s all he was. He was just confused but I told him it’s okay, don’t panic, even though I was panicking, I told him don’t panic,” Lee said.
According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office the woman’s car was swept off the road by the floodwaters, pinning it against a group of trees. Lee was able to free 1-year-old Kaiden from his car seat and escape. But the waters were too furious for her to maintain her grip on her son. She was rescued a short time later but her son was lost in the flood waters.
After an exhaustive search, first responders found the boy near the car in the woods where the flood washed them away. The Sherrif’s Office released a statement this morning, “Searchers have recovered the body of one year old Kaiden Lee-Welch. Our thoughts and prayers for the little boy’s family and all the search team members and law enforcement officers who helped in this matter. Very sad situation.”
The National Weather Service continues to warn, “Turn around, don’t drown; never drive through flood waters.”