Coroner identifies NC children buried alive

Rescue crews work to free the children. (Source: WBTV)
Rescue crews work to free the children. (Source: WBTV)
Chloe Jade Arwood (Source: WBTV)
Chloe Jade Arwood (Source: WBTV)
James Levi Caldwel (Source: WBTV)
James Levi Caldwel (Source: WBTV)

Investigators have identified two children who were killed after being buried beneath thousands of pounds of dirt at a residential construction site in Stanley Sunday night.

During a news conference on Monday morning, investigators say they found the body of a 6-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy.

The children have been identified as James Levi Caldwell, 7, of Stanley, and Chloe Jade Arwood, 6, of Gastonia.

Investigators set up a tent over the hole around 6:45 a.m. Monday morning and moments later were seen carrying a stretcher covered with tarp and loading it in the back of an ambulance.

Approximately 75 rescuers from four counties, including Charlotte, were called to the scene in the 5800 block of Cedarbrook Court in Stanley just after 6 p.m. Sunday evening to the call of entrapment.

Neighbors told the WBTV crew at the scene a man is in the process of building a house and was digging out the basement when a wall of dirt collapsed around two kids.

Neighbors say the children are cousins.

During the press conference Monday morning, investigators say the children had been sent into the hole to retrieve a pick-axe when thousands of pounds of dirt collapsed on them.

A release from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office later stated that the children had been playing in the pit when the wall collapsed.

Caldwell's father who was working at the construction site witnessed the incident and called 911.

Personnel searched through the night moving dirt in the large pit that was estimated to be 24-feet deep, 20- feet wide and 24-feet long, using shovels and climbing gear in an attempt to get the children out.

"Because you can't see the children, you can't estimate how far down they are," Public Information Officer with Lincoln Emergency Management Dion Burleson told WBTV on Sunday night.

Neighbor Jennifer Hensley says she knows the two kids. She and her son, 9-year-old Alex, watched from their front yard as emergency crews rolled in all evening.

"I told [Alex] let's just wait and make sure what happened and then we will talk about all that in a serious conversation then," Hensley said.

"Many in our community have felt the impact of this event. Included in those who have been significantly impacted are the very rescuers who worked so hard to free these two precious children," said Dion Burleson with the Denver Fire Department.

"The Lincoln County Critical Incident team of chaplains was called in to assist the family of the victims as well as emergency responders working on site," Burleson continued. "Many times our firefighters and rescue personnel are able to remedy the emergencies that they are called to. Incidents such as this are very difficult for responders to deal with due to not being able to make a significant difference in the outcome."

Investigators say they are looking into the case, but are allowing family members time to grieve.

The investigation is ongoing and will eventually be turned over to the District Attorney to see if charges will be filed.

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