Kaiden Lee-Welch lost his grip on his mother’s hand during Hurricane Florence, and on Monday his mother’s worst nightmare was confirmed as his body was found, NBC News reports.
The police search and rescue teams spent the evening searching for the 1-year-old after he was swept away, finding his body on Monday morning after several hours looking for the toddler.
His mother, Dazia Lee, suspected that this would be the end result, and spoke of how grateful she was to those who searched for him. She was also thankful that his body had been recovered.
“The only thing I care about is that they found him, that’s the only thing I care about. So now we’re waiting to just see him.”
Dazia and Kaiden were traveling when floodwaters hit the highway Dazia was driving on in Wadesboro, North Carolina. She had driven around a barricade on State Highway 218 to try to get to the town, but the water rose more quickly than she had anticipated — forcing her car off of the road.
With the car off the road, Dazia got stuck in a group of trees which would have seen her trapped in the car as the floodwaters rose. That left her with no choice but to leave her car, getting out and trying to keep her son safe.
“I was holding his hand, trying to hold him, trying to pull him up… I couldn’t hold on anymore, and he let go.”
Kaiden Lee-Welch, 1 is missing. Deputies say his mother drove around barricades near Richardson Creek on North Carolina Highway 218, & into rushing water. She freed herself & Kaiden, who was in a carseat, but lost her grip on him in rushing water. Deputies have shared this pic. pic.twitter.com/ERW47OBwvD
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 17, 2018
The Union County Sheriff’s Office — whose officers located the body — posted its condolences on Facebook.
“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.”
Dazia and other family members joined in the search for Kaiden as soon as he was swept away, with the professional search and rescue effort being joined by several local residents in the attempt.
Following the news of Kaiden being swept away, both the police and Governor Roy Cooper took the opportunity to remind North Carolinians of the danger of floodwaters. Police further closed down the highway — in part to aid the search — but also to keep other residents of the area safe. Governor Cooper spoke to the media about the flooding in the state and the risk it holds to everyone.
With the death of Kaiden Lee-Welch, the death toll of Hurricane Florence has reached 19. Kaiden was not the youngest victim — an eight month old also lost their life when a tree collapsed on the family home, the Inquisitr reports.