"He was my first and only child and now he's just gone I don't even feel like a parent no more – he's just gone," Dazia Lee said

By Michelle Boudin
September 17, 2018 06:00 PM
Credit: union county sheriffs department

A 14-month-old little boy is among the victims of Hurricane Florence after his mom drove around a roadblock and her car was swept away in rushing floodwaters, authorities say.

The Union County Sheriff says Dazia Lee was in the small town of New Salem, North Carolina, on her way from Charlotte to Wadesboro on Sunday night when she drove around traffic barrels. Her car was quickly swept up in the water and thrown across a field and into a tree.

Lee managed to get out of the car and grab her son, Kaiden Lee Welch, in his car seat, but she couldn’t hold on and the toddler was lost in the water.

FEMA had stationed a dive team from Miami in the small town to help with potential water rescues and managed to save the mom almost immediately, but they didn’t recover the toddler’s body until Monday morning. They found Kaiden’s body wedged between the bumper of his mom’s car and the tree they’d slammed into.

Floodwater from Hurricane Florence

Lee told Charlotte station WCNC, “He was my first and only child and now he’s just gone I don’t even feel like a parent no more – he’s just gone.”

At a press conference Monday afternoon, the sheriff told reporters, “These are dangerous times, driving through water when roads are closed is dangerous. She was a stranger to this community driving on this road she did not know, she did drive around the barricades.”

Lee told WCNC she had seen other people safely crossing the road and insists someone moved the roadblock. “I want to know whoever moved the barricades — I lost my son because of this.”

Tropical Weather North Carolina, Fayetteville, USA - 16 Sep 2018
Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence
| Credit: David Goldman/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Florence dumped more than 10 inches on the Charlotte region over the weekend, forcing many area creeks out of their beds and closing dozens of roads in the area.

The Highway Patrol and the Union County Sheriff’s Department. Both agencies say it’s too early to know if any criminal charges will be filed.

Lee told WCNC she is grateful rescuers were able to recover her son’s body.

“The only thing… I’m happy they found him knowing that he’s just gone, I just wanted to see him one more time,” she said.