Rowland, N.C. — A 2-year-old died Wednesday evening after wandering away from a Rowland home and falling into a water-filled ditch nearby, authorities said Thursday.
Zaymon Locklear was outside his aunt's home at 4889 Cabinet Shop Road shortly after 7 p.m. with several of his cousins when, family members said, he wandered over to a 2-foot-deep ditch that runs along a nearby farm field.
Marlon Jacobs said his nephew had borrowed his fishing rod and likely wanted to check out the ditch, which teems with tadpoles.
Kimberly Locklear, Zaymon's aunt, said the boy had been outside for about five minutes when she noticed he was missing. Her son found him in the ditch.
"When he got here, he said, 'Mama, he's in the ditch! He's in the ditch!" Locklear said. "By the time I jumped in that ditch and pulled him up and laid him right there, that's when I went to doing CPR."
While Locklear tried to revive Zaymon, someone called paramedics. Resuscitation efforts continued until the boy was pronounced dead at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton.
"People (were) around him, touching him, just praying and begging for him to come back," Locklear said.
Jacobs said he thinks Zaymon dropped the fishing rod into the water and went in to retrieve it.
Lt. Kathy Torre of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office said the case remains under investigation, and Robeson County prosecutors will have to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.
Family members said children often play around the drainage ditch, and they are now urging the landowner to put up a fence or some other barrier to prevent future accidents.
A crude wooden cross was erected next to the ditch Thursday with the inscription "Bam, we love you," referring to one of Zaymon's nicknames.
"I can't imagine (life) without him because I talked to him every day," Locklear said.