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Mom Charged in Hurricane Death of Her Toddler

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on November 06, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Carolinas are still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, but some residents are feeling it more than others. Dazia Ideah Lee literally lost her one-year-old son, Kaiden Lee-Welch. And now she is being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Mother's Son Killed by Flood Tides

On September 16, 2018, Lee-Welch was trying to escape from the rising tides in her town and be with family. She thought the worst of the storm had passed, and got into her 2010 Hyundai Elantra, with her son, Lee-Welch, and headed for drier land. Though the roads were closed, she decided to ignore the barricades erected by local police, and forge ahead. This proved to be a costly mistake.

Costly Error Contributed to His Death

Lee-Welch drove around police barrels on Highway 218, believing the roads were driveable, since she saw other cars coming in the opposite direction. Her car was soon swept away by the flood waters. She grabbed her son out of the car seat and tried to escape the car, but the current swept her son away. He was later found dead, pinned between a tree and a car, further downstream.

Mother Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is an unintended death resulting from recklessness or criminal negligence, or an unlawful act or misdemeanor. Since Lee-Welch broke the driving laws by going around the barricades set up for the public's safety, she was charged with a misdemeanor, which is enough to bump the baby's death into involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, she faces up to 16 months in prison, according to state sentencing guidelines. Local authorities are sympathetic to this woman's pain, but believe charges are in order, and hope this deters others from making the same egregious error.

If you or someone you love faces criminal charges stemming from a natural disaster, contact a criminal defense attorney. If enlisted early enough in the process, these lawyers can often help to mitigate charges brought, and penalties administered. Few need the pain of adding insult to injury in such times.

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