Hear with me the distraught voice of Kaiden’s mother, speaking through sobs. “I couldn’t hold on anymore,” she told reporters, “and he let go.” Rushing flood water had yanked the hand of her 1-year-old son from her desperate grip and swept him away. Rescue workers found his body the next morning.
Dazia Lee and her toddler son were driving from their home in Charlotte to Wadesboro to visit family members when they came upon a bridge that crosses Richardson Creek in Union County, N.C., and found the road buried under water. She thought she could make it, but the force of the flood waters lifted her car and swept it across a field, jamming it into trees. In her struggles to free herself and her son, she lost her grip on his tiny hand, and he slipped away.
Imagine the moment, the shared terror for both mother and child.
One could fault Mrs. Lee for ignoring warnings and trying to drive through flood waters. Or we could weep with her and for her.
Hurricanes live on in the memories of journalists for decades — the mind’s photos and videos of massive destruction remain in sharp focus: water rescues, crowded shelters, the despair of those who lose their homes. Terrible storms and other natural disasters deliver thousands of human stories that stretch our imaginations and touch our hearts.
One need not be a journalist to be touched by such images. I continue to be haunted by this one terrifying moment I did not witness but can’t get out of my mind. It will remain there for a long time. We all grieve for Dazia Lee and young Kaiden. A mother and her child.