Created on Monday, 08 April 2013 Written by MITCH WEISS,Associated Press
STANLEY, N.C. (AP) — Authorities on Monday recovered the bodies of two young cousins buried when a wall of dirt fell on them while they were playing in a hole at a home construction site in North Carolina.
The bodies of the 6-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy were pulled from a 24-foot-deep pit in the town of Stanley, outside of Charlotte, said Lincoln County Emergency Services spokesman Dion Burleson.
"We've been working a horrific scene here," Burleson told reporters gathered near the rural site on a two-lane road dotted with modular and mobile homes.
Crews had been searching for the children since Sunday afternoon, when the boy's father called 911 to report the collapse. Officials were on the scene within minutes but couldn't get to the children.
The father had been digging with a backhoe on the site earlier in the day, said County Sheriff David Carpenter. He would not say what was being built or if the man was doing it alone or had professional help.
Burleson described the pit as 20 feet by 20 feet with a sloped entrance leading down to the 24-foot bottom. The children were at the bottom of the pit retrieving a child-sized pickaxe when the walls fell in on them, Carpenter said.
He said his deputies would continue to investigate what happened. Authorities have not released the names of the father or the children.
Neighbor Bradley Jones said the children often played in the pit when the boy's father was working there. Jones, who said he works in construction, said there was no structure to support the pit's tall dirt walls and that he questioned the man about the hole's depth.
"I told Chelsea not to go in," Jones said, referring to advice he gave his teenage daughter, who babysat the children. "It was dangerous. There was nothing to reinforce those walls."