- Zeta weakens to tropical storm, still packs gusty winds and heavy rain on trek through southeast
- Tropical Storm Zeta to bring heavy rain, strong winds to Charlotte area
- The Latest: Zeta weakens into a tropical storm over Alabama
- LIST: Schools in the Carolinas going remote, closing due to severe weather
- Tropical Storm Warning expanded into Charlotte ahead of Zeta; many schools switch to 'remote' day
The mother of a 1-year-old who drowned during Hurricane Florence has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, the Union County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday.
Dazia Ideah Lee, 20, was served with a summons for a November court date, the sheriff’s office said. She has also been charged with driving on a closed or unopened highway.
Lee was driving with her son, Kaiden Lee Welch, in wet weather on the night of Sept. 16, when Union County was seeing flooding and other effects from the hurricane.
Soon after Kaiden died, Lee told the Washington Post and other news outlets that she saw people driving across a bridge over Richardson Creek, and they seemed to be fine, although she also saw barricades nearby.
“I can tell you that the barricades were up there,” Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said the day after Kaiden was swept away. “Whether someone else moved those barricades and she drove around ‘em, I can’t say.”
Officials say Lee’s car was swept off the road as she tried to drive over the bridge.
Lee was able to get out of her seat and get Kaiden out of his car seat, the Observer reported at the time, but she lost her grip on her son as she tried to maneuver them both through the floodwaters.
Multiple law enforcement teams searched for Kaiden that night and again in the morning, when his body was found.
In a statement Monday, Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said the entire situation was “heartbreaking.”
“We continue to pray for all those suffering as a result of this child’s death,” Cathey said. “However, after a very thorough investigation and taking all facts into consideration and applying the law, we feel that these charges are appropriate.”
Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester