Buried Kids Father 911 Call Relays Panic After Children Were Fatally Crushed

Tuesday, 09 Apr 2013 10:41 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A North Carolina man urged a 911 operator to send help after his daughter and nephew were buried alive when the dirt wall of a construction site collapsed on them Sunday.

Jordan Arwood, 31, had been working on a 24-foot-deep dirt hole with a backhoe when he saw the dirt collapse in on his 6-year-old daughter and 7-year-old nephew in Lincoln County, N.C., Sunday afternoon. He immediately called 911.

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"Please hurry... My children are buried under tons of dirt... It fell on top of them," Arwood told the operator in between sobs. "The entire wall collapsed on them. Get a crane. Get a bulldozer. Get anything you can, please. There's no way they can breathe. Lord lift this dirt up off these children so the children will be alive and well... I have to get my kids. Lord, please."

The children had reportedly gone into the pit to retrieve a toy pickaxe when one of the walls fell on them. Rescuers recovered the bodies of Arwood's daughter, Chloe Jade Arwood, and his nephew, James Levi Caldwell, Monday morning.

"Two of my grandchildren have been killed. Me and my wife are really in bad shape," Ken Caldwell, the children’s grandfather, told reporters Monday. "If I didn’t have other ones, I wouldn’t see no use staying here."

Construction was the leading industry for fatal accidents, with 10 in 2012, according to the N.C. Department of Labor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 350 workers died in trenching or excavation cave-ins between 2000 and 2009 in the country — an average of 35 fatalities per year.

It's unclear why Arwood was digging with heavy equipment. He had purchased the piece of land in February and was supposedly building a home there, but he had not secured any construction or building permits, according to the sheriff's office.

"Hopefully, we will be able to determine from him what his intentions were for what he was aiming to build," Sheriff David Carpenter told the Charlotte Observer. "It was certainly much larger than what you would have for a normal basement."

Police removed two marijuana plants from Arwood's mobile home, as well as several guns and grow lights. Arwood also has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions in 2000 and 2009 for felony possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana, resisting a public officer, driving with a revoked license, and driving while impaired, according to the Observer.

It's unclear yet whether any charges will be filed against him in this case.

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