Kaiden Lee-Welch

Rescuers find body of toddler swept away by Hurricane Florence floodwaters: ‘He’s my only child and now he’s gone’

Officials said rescuers have recovered the body of a 1-year-old North Carolina boy who was reportedly strapped in his car seat when he was swept away by Hurricane Florence floodwaters Sunday night.

The Union County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Monday that that rescue crews have found Kaiden Lee-Welch. Officials said the toddler’s mother drove around road barricades while traveling east on NC-218 towards Wadesboro when the car became overwhelmed by rushing waters, according to WSOC.

Mother Deja Lee was reportedly able to free herself and Lee-Welch from the vehicle after the car was swept off the road and near some trees. It was then when Lee lost her grip on her son and he drifted away, the news station reported.

“I was hydroplaning. I was trying to do everything I could and it got worse when water gets in your car,” she explained.

“You start to panic, you start to freak, you think you’re sinking fast. Everything just happened too fast.”

WWL reported that Lee was rushed to the hospital but returned to the scene to look for her son immediately following her release.

Lee told the outlet that she’s from Charlotte and was visiting family and claimed there wasn’t a barricade mentioning any dangerous conditions ahead. She recalled seeing cars coming “in and out,” leading her to believe the road was safe.

“All I know is I’ve been traumatized, I’ve been through so much. There’s no more that I can take,” Lee said.

Speaking about her late son, the grieving mother said, “He had really changed my life. He did.”

Police are expected to provide an update on their search and rescue efforts at 1 p.m. Monday.

[Featured image: Kaiden Lee Welch/Union County Sheriff’s Department]