Mother Charged With Manslaughter After 1-Year-Old Died During Hurricane Florence

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 30, 2018US News

The mother of Kaiden Lee-Welch, the 1-year-old who was swept away by Hurricane Florence floodwaters in September, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Kaiden’s body was recovered by law enforcement officers after being swept away on Sept. 16 in Union County, North Carolina.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office said in an Oct. 29 press release that it had finished an investigation into what happened and filed criminal charges against Kaiden’s mother Dazia Ideah Lee, 20, of Charlotte.

She faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter and a charge of driving on a closed/unopened highway after driving around barricades on NC 218 that officers had placed so motorists wouldn’t end up in flooded areas.

“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,” Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in a statement. “However, after a very thorough investigation and taking all facts into consideration and applying the law, we feel that these charges are appropriate.”

Involuntary manslaughter “is commonly defined as the unintentional killing of another person resulting from recklessness or criminal negligence” and in North Carolina can be punished by 13 to 16 months in prison.

Lost Grip on Baby

Lee was shocked when she ended up in a flooded area and lost her child.

She was driving on the road in Marshville headed to Wadesboro to visit family members and drove around the barricades.

“When she hit the water, water forced her off the road and across an open field,” Cathey told WCCB-TV in September. Cathey told WCNC that Lee “was a stranger to this community driving on this road she did not know.”

Deputies said Lee’s vehicle came to rest among a group of trees and that she grabbed her baby in his car seat but lost her grip on him in the rushing water.

“I couldn’t hold on anymore, and he let go,” Lee told Fox 46.

Lee told WCNC that she did not drive around any barricades and claimed someone moved them there after she drove past the area.

“I was about to detour … I want to know whoever moved the barricades. I lost my son because of this,” she said. “The only thing I’m happy is they found him. Knowing that he’s just gone. I just wanted to see him one more time. I’ve been traumatized.”

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