Body of 4-year-old boy found in Smithfield, first responders speaking out

Johnston County News

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — The body of a missing 4-year-old boy has been recovered in Smithfield. His step-sister’s remains were found Wednesday. Both were swept away by floodwaters Monday night in Smithfield.

The community, including first responders, are devastated. Some of them came together Thursday night to talk about how they’re doing.

“Bring the children back to the family,” Smithfield Fire Chief John Blanton.

That’s what firefighters hoped to do, what they train to do. When the call came in, a mother and two young children trapped in floodwaters, they responded in force.

“They were facing unprecedented water pressure, water levels, debris, and operating in the dark,” Blanton said.

Still, they managed to get to that mother and the 4-year-old boy. They said they had them in the boat then it capsized. The boy slipped away. At the time, firefighters said they didn’t realize there was also a 5-year-old girl.

Three other boats then overturned trying to rescue the children. Many of those firefighters are volunteers.

“When it becomes rescuing the rescuers we have to look at it a little differently, we have to do it differently and of course we’re still focused on why we’re there in the first place. To rescue the people that called,” Kevin Hubbard, the Johnston County Director of Emergency Services said.

They said about 15 inches of rain fell in just a few hours in that area. A stretch of Galilee Road washed away.

Investigators located the body of the 5-year-old girl, Alexa on Wednesday evening. Her step-brother Abraham was found Thursday morning.

“It’s been a daunting task, there’s not been a minute of any day that my men or any men have not had those children on their minds,” Blanton said.

The county held a special debriefing event Thursday evening, bringing together those that responded.

“Just to talk, just to have a conversation. We have trained professionals there,” Hubbard explained.

Four Oaks firefighters were first on the water that night. They came from a training session on water rescue the day before. They like so many are heartbroken.

The family of the children has started a GoFundMe to help pay for funeral expenses.

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