Neighbor: Moore toddler's drowning could have been prevented
Posted April 15, 2016
Carthage, N.C. — A Moore County toddler who drowned in a pond Thursday had repeatedly wandered off before, a neighbor said Friday.
Rylan Ott, who was three weeks shy of his second birthday, was found unresponsive in a pond off Pond Branch Road near Vass and was pronounced dead at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.
Stephanie Calcutt, who lives next door, said that, when she came home Thursday afternoon, the boy's mother, Samantha Nacole Bryant, was looking for him but couldn't find him anywhere. An hour or more passed before they called the Moore County Sheriff's Office, and deputies, local firefighters, State Highway Patrol troopers and neighbors joined in the search, which went on for about two hours.
"When I was out there looking, something just kept telling me to go back further and further and further," Calcutt said. "It just breaks your heart because you don't know what he was going through. I know he was scared, but the Lord's got him now. He's going to be OK."
The pond where Rylan was found was almost half a mile from his home.
Calcutt said the boy was outside alone a lot, sometimes wandering off to neighbors' homes, and she said she believes his death could have been prevented.
"He's out here in the yard, running around, playing," she said. "It's sad. Rylan was a loving little boy. He loved nature."
Bryant, 30, has been on probation since February after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of child abuse. Warrants state that, in October, she "consumed alcohol excessively" and fought with firearms in the presence of three children.
She also pleaded guilty to assaulting a government official and resisting a public officer.
"You know, it just makes you sit back and realize: don't take life for granted," Calcutt said. "You can lose your kids in an instant. I came home and hugged my kids."