Toddler hit, killed by vehicle after wandering from Cleveland Co. home

CLEVELAND COUNTY, NC — State troopers are trying to figure out how and why a young child apparently wandered away from his home in the pre-dawn hours Monday morning before being hit and killed by a vehicle in rural Cleveland County.

State troopers told Channel 9 they were investigating the deadly crash, which happened around 6 a.m. in the 1800 block of S. Post Road, in the Patterson Springs community, just south of Shelby.

They said a toddler was killed after being struck by a vehicle.

[IMAGES: Road closed after child hit, killed by vehicle in Cleveland County]

Officials identified the toddler as 2-year-old Bruce Fleming. Reporter Ken Lemon learned Bruce was named after his grandfather, who died eight years ago, and was going to turn three on Saturday.

Troopers said it appeared the boy wandered away from his home, about 100 yards away, and was wearing a dark shirt when he walked into the road and was hit by two vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators said a driver saw the boy on the shoulder of the road and stopped in an effort to get him but was too late, and witnessed the collision.

Investigators spent the day talking with members of the boy’s family.

They believe he slipped out of the home during a 15-minute window, when the boy’s grandmother left to take the boy’s father to work. The rest of the family was sleeping.

The family released the below statement:

"We are heartbroken over the tragic and sudden loss of little Bruce. Bruce’s parents are utterly devastated by the death of their beloved only son, whom they adored and doted on. We request that you keep the family, witnesses to the accident, and first responders in your thoughts and prayers."

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County officials told Channel 9 that the road was shut down near Creek Ridge Road for nearly three hours.

Troopers said they do not expect to charge the driver.

They said they have not found any reason to charge family members and DSS will investigate as protocol.

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

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