Search crews find bodies of brother, sister swept away in NC floodwaters

SMITHFIELD, N.C. — The sheriff of Johnston County relayed a heartbreaking update Thursday morning for a family who lost two children during flash flooding in Smithfield, North Carolina.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell told WTVD that search crews found the body of 4-year-old Abraham on Thursday morning. The news came just 12 hours after crews found the body of the boy’s sister, 5-year-old Alexa.

Bizzell said the boy was found about 30 yards from his sister’s location in shallow water.

”We were hoping to have better news, but at least the family will be able to put some of the closure,” Bizzle said.

Bizzell said the outpouring of support and assistance from the community was humbling. He said he wished he had better news to share, but he’s proud of the community coming together during a tough time.

“I can’t imagine either the emotions of the family, of the heartbreak, the hurt, the devastation. It’s been tough on myself; it’s been tough on the deputies,” Bizzell said. “Everybody that I’ve talked to has been in continuous prayer for this family, these kids.”

Abraham and Alexa went missing Monday night into Tuesday morning when fast-rising water damaged Galilee Road and pulled the car they were in with their mother off the road.

Rescue crews were able to get the mother to safety, but Abraham and Alexa were nowhere to be found. Days of searching finally revealed that the children were unable to survive.

”We can find some comfort in knowing that they’re in a better place today than we are,” Bizzell said.

Authorities said Wednesday that crews found Alexa’s body. Bizzell said the 5-year-old’s body was found around 4:30 p.m. in a creek near the Neuse River.

The children’s mother called 911 late Monday to report that her car had been swept into a creek. Rescuers were able to get her to safety but not her children.

Dozens of Johnston County community members spent Wednesday supporting the family desperately looking for the two young kids swept away by flash flooding. Deputies worked all day on Tuesday and Wednesday looking for the children.

After the sheriff’s office notified the group about 5-year-old Alexa’s body being found, they rallied together and held several prayers together, including a massive prayer circle where they asked God to help deputies find 4-year-old Abraham.

Others stopped by to provide food, water, and words of encouragement to family and loved ones.

”For us to find a body is a success but it is not the success we were hoping for,” Bizzell said on Wednesday.

Nancy Martinez, the cousin to Abraham’s father, told our partners at WTVD that it was an emotionally taxing day.

”I got kids of my own, you know, what can you think? We’re still hoping and praying we find Abraham before the night is over,” Martinez said.

Earlier Wednesday, Donna Mitchell led a prayer circle with family and neighbors.

”All I could think about was it being my children, my grandbabies,” she told WTVD. “And it breaks my heart to know that this mother is going through all this pain. And just to know, what if it was your child?”

The tragedy happened Monday into Tuesday when heavy downpours blanketed much of central North Carolina. A mother and her two children were driving down Galilee Road when water caused part of the road to collapse. Their car was then swept away.

According to Smithfield Fire Chief John Blanton, rescue crews arrived and were able to get the mother and one child. However, while they were in a recovery boat headed back to safety, the boat capsized, and the child slipped away.

Three other recovery boats would capsize before the crews were able to get themselves and the mother to safety.

”The water was so raging the other night, it was throwing the boats up against the trees,” Bizzell said. “We’re fortunate that we had no loss of life for first responders the other night.”

The creek feeds into the Neuse River. Crews had been searching the river as well.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.