Father Prays On 911 Call After Kids Buried Under Dirt
STANLEY, NC- James Caldwell, 7 and his cousin, Chloe Arwood, 6 were playing in their backyard - which looked more like a construction site - Sunday evening.
Authorities say Arwood's father, Jordan Arwood, used a backhoe to continue digging a 24-foot pit in his backyard when authorities say the two kids went to the bottom of the pit to get a toy around 6p.m.That's when police say the dirt walls caved in and buried them.
As Chloe's father screamed for help on a 911 call, neighbors ran over to help. Neighbor Danny Ferrell says family and friends tried digging the children out with their bare hands.
"100 tons of dirt. I knew right away that with two little children, there was no hope. If they weren't suffocation, they were crushed," said Ferrell.
Family members say Arwood, Chloe's father, was building a home in his backyard on Cedarbrooke Court in Stanley. According to the family, the pit was 24-foot deep because he planned to build two stories underground.
Neighbors say they've seen Arwood digging the pit for close to three months, but according to Lincoln County officials, Arwood did not having a building permit.
After 13 hours of digging, rescuers recovered both the children's bodies Monday morning. Now, friends and family remember the young lives lost too soon.
"She was a smart kid, really smart. She was wide beyond her years," said Ferrell.
"James... he's just wide open all the time and he's so helpful,” said the children's grandfather Kenneth Caldwell.
Caldwell shed tears on Monday as mounds of dirt in his backyard leave haunting memories.
"I really miss them. I'm glad they in heaven but I wish they were here with me. But I'm glad they got to go together," said Caldwell.
On Monday, ddeputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office removed several firearms and a marijuana plant from inside Arwood’s mobile home. According to officials, Arwood, who is a convicted felon, is not permitted to own firearms.