A North Carolina mother has been charged over the death of her son in a tragic drowning tied to Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. Union County Sheriff’s detectives filed criminal charges against the Charlotte mother for driving around flood barricades that resulted in the tragic drowning death of her one year old son last month. Dazia Ideah Lee, age 20, of Charlotte faces a charge of Involuntary Manslaughter and a Misdemeanor charge of Driving on a Closed/Unopened Highway in connection with the death of her son, Kaiden Lee-Welch.
During the peak of the flooding rains from Hurricane Florence, Lee ignored Flood Warnings and requests from public officials not to drive. She buckled her son into his car seat and drove out to visit relatives. The driver 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. According to early reports, 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, pinned between the car’s bumper and a tree. After finding the body, the Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying, “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.”
Sheriff Eddie Cathey stated yesterday, “The tragic death of this child and the circumstances surrounding this case are heartbreaking. We continue to pray for all those suffering as a result of this child’s death. However, after a very thorough investigation and taking all facts into consideration and applying the law, we feel that these charges are appropriate.”
The boy’s mother is due in court on November 20.
The National Weather Service continues to warn people to “turn around, don’t drown” adding that people should never drive through flood waters.