A father who lost his daughter and nephew in a construction accident on his property in April has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said.
Jordan Keely Arwood, 32, was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center Thursday under a $15,000 secured bond after deputies said he turned himself in at the Sheriff’s Office.
The new felony charges stem from detectives’ determinations that the suspect “showed culpable negligence” in the children’s deaths, an agency press release said.
A trench collapsed on Chloe Arwood, 6, and James Caldwell, 7, on April 7 at Arwood’s home on Cedarbrook Court in Stanley.
Deputies initially charged the father with possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) and a firearm but waited several days to arrest him, giving him time to grieve.
Because Arwood is a felon, convicted of a drug-related offense in Catawba County in 2003, the North Carolina Department of Correction website showed, he is not legally allowed to own a gun.
Deputies said he had been digging and moving dirt with a backhoe at the property when the incident took place. The children had already been inside the pit playing.
Arwood told investigators he was digging the pit for an underground basement for a home.
For nearly three hours after the collapse, rescue crews from various area fire departments, EMS, and other agencies both inside and outside Lincoln County tried to rescue the children, buried alive.
It wasn’t long before the mission focused on recovering the bodies, which crews pulled from the pit the following morning — 12 hours later, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“This has been a very tragic event,” Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter said in a press release on Thursday afternoon, “and we continue to pray for all persons involved with this as our investigation is turned over to the courts.”
Arwood’s first appearance on the new charges is set for today.
According to Asst. District Attorney Michael Miller, it’s too soon to determine Arwood’s possible prison time, which will be based on his prior record.
“I have not had an opportunity to review his record and calculate his record level,” the prosecutor said in an email to the Times-News on Thursday.
Miller did note, however, involuntary manslaughter is a class F felony with a probationary or active sentence of 10 to 33 months attached to it.
Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Johnson headed the investigation.