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Children’s bodies pulled from pit

STANLEY, N.C. — The bodies of two young cousins were recovered Monday from the collapsed rubble of a 24-foot-deep pit that was being dug with a backhoe by a man on his North Carolina property.

Rescuers had been digging for Chloe Jade Arwood, 6, and James Levi Caldwell, 7, since Sunday, when the girl’s father, Jordan Arwood, who was digging the pit, called 911. Officials were on the scene near Charlotte within minutes but couldn’t get to the children.

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Sheriff’s deputies also removed firearms and a marijuana plant from the mobile home. The 31-year-old father is a felon who is not allowed to have guns. He was convicted in 2003 for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

Arwood had been digging with a backhoe on the site earlier in the day, Sheriff David Carpenter said. He would not say what was being built or whether Arwood was doing it alone or had professional help.

Dion Burleson, a Lincoln County spokesman, described the pit as 20 feet by 20 feet with a sloped entrance leading to the 24-foot bottom. The children were at the bottom of the pit retrieving a child-sized pickaxe when the walls fell in on them, Carpenter said.

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