Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Two Children Die When Deep Pit Collapses in N.C

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Two Children Die When Deep Pit Collapses in N.C

Article excerpt

STANLEY, N.C. -- A North Carolina man tearfully begged authorities to hurry to his house to rescue his daughter and her cousin, who were buried when the walls of a 24-foot deep pit he dug on his property collapsed.

Jordan Arwood, 31, was operating a backhoe in the pit Sunday night when the walls collapsed and he called 911. His desperate voice is heard on a recording released by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office on Monday, when the children's bodies were recovered.

"Please hurry. ... My children are buried under tons of dirt. ... They're buried under tons of clay. ... It fell on top of them," he said sobbing.

When the dispatcher asked him if he could see the children, Mr. Arwood said he couldn't. "The entire wall collapsed on them. Get a crane. Get a bulldozer. Get anything you can, please," he said. "There's no way they can breathe."

As the dispatcher began encouraging him -- and with people wailing in the background -- Mr. Arwood began praying. "Lord lift this dirt up off these children, ... so the children will be alive and well. ... I have to get my kids. Lord, please," he said.

The bodies of the two young cousins, 6-year-old Chloe Arwood and 7-year-old James Caldwell, were dug out Monday.

Later Monday, sheriff's deputies removed firearms and a marijuana plant from Mr. Arwood's mobile home. He is a felon who is not allowed to have guns. He was convicted in 2003 for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

The father had been digging with a backhoe on the site Sunday, Sheriff David Carpenter said. Investigators described the pit as 20 feet by 20 feet with a sloped entrance leading down to the 24-foot bottom. The children were at the bottom of the pit, retrieving a child-sized pickaxe, when the walls fell in on them, Sheriff Carpenter said.

The sheriff would not say what Mr. …

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