A young mother who lost her 1-year-old son from the wrath of Hurricane Florence is being charged with involuntary manslaughter and driving on a closed highway.
“I did everything I could as a parent to save him and protect him,” 20-year-old Dazia Ideah Lee told Fox 46 in September.
Lee’s son Kaiden Lee-Welch was swept away by Florence’s floodwaters on Sept. 16 and died by drowning. Authorities found his body the next day.
The 20-year-old said she and her 14-month-old traveling east towards Wadesboro, North Carolina, in an unfamiliar area when she drove around barricades and was met by floodwaters that overwhelmed her car. The rain-swollen creek pushed her vehicle off the road and into a group of trees. She managed to free herself and unstrap her son from his car seat, but she lost grip of little Kaiden from rushing waters.
“I was holding his hand, trying to hold him, trying to pull him up and it got to the point that I couldn’t hold on anymore, and he let go,” Lee said.
Union County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday that Lee driving around the barricades onto a closed road is the reason she’s facing a misdemeanor charge and one felony charge, which could lead to a sentence of 13 to 16 months in prison.
Sheriff Eddie Cathey of Union County believes the charges are appropriate after conducting a “very thorough investigation.”
“The tragic death of this child and the circumstances surrounding this case are heartbreaking,” Cathey stated. “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.”
Lee told the news station in September, “I want you all to know. My son is 1 year old. He’s the sweetest boy you could ever had.”
She’s scheduled to appear back in court Nov. 20.