The children’s bodies were found buried under 20 feet of dirt, according to Lincoln County Emergency Services spokesman Dion Burleson.
The two children, a 6-year-old girl and a 7-year-old girl, were playing in a hole that was about 22 feet deep by 20 feet wide. The girl’s body was discovered around 6 am, and the boy’s was uncovered just one hour later.
Both children were declared dead at the scene and were transported to the Lincoln County Medical Examiner’s Office. The discoveries were made 12 hours after authorities were first called to the scene on Sunday evening. One of the children’s fathers called 911 to report the accident after seeing the dirt collapse on top of the children.
The trapped kids found dead were thought to be cousins. They were presumed dead just two hours after the dirt first collapsed because of a lack of oxygen where they were trapped. Burleson added that more than 70 emergency workers worked through the night to dig the pit out and recover the bodies of the children.
The children were identified on Monday as James Levi Caldwell and Chloe Jade Arwood. Investigators announced that the children were sent into the hole to retrieve a pick-axe when the dirt wall collapsed. Caldwell’s father was working at the construction site when he witnessed the accident.
The construction site was in place to dig out the basement of a house. It is unclear what, if any, charges will be filed in the case.
Investigators announced on Monday that they will give the families space and time to grieve for their losses before they begin interviewing them to find out what happened. The investigation will then be turned over to the District Attorney’s office.
The Lincoln County Critical Incident team of chaplains was also called to the scene after the trapped kids were found dead to provide support for the families, neighbors, and emergency workers involved in recovering them.
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