Search crews find body of 4-year-old boy swept away in Smithfield flash flood

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) — A tragic conclusion came Thursday morning for a family who lost two children during flash flooding in Smithfield.

Johnston County Sheriff’s Office confirmed search crews found the body of 4-year-old Abraham on Thursday morning. That news came just over 12 hours after crews found the body of his sister, 5-year-old Alexa.

The sheriff is expected to speak more about the discovery shortly.

—–The following story is the previous update and will be updated shortly—
Sheriff’s deputies resumed the search for 4-year-old Abraham on Thursday. Abraham and his sister Alexa went missing overnight Monday into Tuesday when fast-moving flood water swept away Galilee Road.

The children were in the car with their mother when the flash flood pulled the car off the road. Rescue crews were able to get the mother to safety, but Alexa and Abraham were nowhere to be found.

The sheriff’s office found Alexa’s body around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. When the family and loved ones were notified, they held several prayers together, including a massive prayer circle where they asked God to help deputies find Abraham.

For Thursday, search officials said it is not safe for volunteers to come out to assist in the search. Water in the area remains fast-moving.

Deputies told ABC11 that some volunteers who came out Wednesday actually ended up having their own boats capsize.

Deputies said they know people want to help, but they need to focus on this search and because the conditions are dangerous, they can’t be using resources to rescue volunteers.

“For us to find a body is a success but it is not a success we were hoping for,” Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Wednesday after finding Alexa’s body.

Nancy Martinez, the cousin to Abraham’s father, said Wednesday was an emotionally taxing day.

“I got kids of my own, you know, what can you think? We’re still hoping and praying we find Abraham before the night is over,” Martinez said.

After deputies suspended the search for the evening, community members organized and began conducting their own searches of the surrounding bodies of water. Unfortunately, they were unable to find Abraham.


Earlier in the day, Donna Mitchell led a prayer circle with family and neighbors.

“All I could think about was it being my children, my grandbabies,” she said. “And it breaks my heart to know that this mother is going through all this pain. And just to know, what if it was your child?”

The tragedy happened Monday into Tuesday when heavy downpours blanketed much of central North Carolina.

A mother and her two children were driving down Galilee Road when water caused part of the road to collapse. Their car was then swept away.

According to Smithfield Fire Chief John Blanton, rescue crews arrived and were able to get the mother and one child. However, while they were in a recovery boat headed back to safety, the boat capsized.

WATCH: Marine rescues couple trapped in mangled car during Johnston County storm

Three other recovery boats would capsize before the crews were able to get themselves and the mother to safety.

“The water was so raging the other night, it was throwing the boats up against the trees,” Bizzell said. “We’re fortunate that we had no loss of life for first responders the other night.”

The creek feeds into the Neuse River, which was in a moderate flood stage at 11 a.m. Crews were searching the river as well. Temperatures are expected to get well into the 90s with heat indices into the triple digits, making the search effort more difficult.

Johnston County Sheriff’s Office spent all day Tuesday searching for the missing children using K-9s, a helicopter, and old fashioned manpower.

WATCH: Fire Chief Blanton on the efforts to save the missing children

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