The bodies of two young siblings missing in a deadly flash flood in Smithfield, North Carolina earlier this week have been recovered. Rescuers found 4-year-old Abraham Martinez Jr.’s body in a creek near Neuse River on Thursday morning and 12 hours later, recovered his sister, 5-year-old, Alexa Castro in shallow water 30 yards away, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
The harrowing ordeal took place on Monday night when Vanessa Castro and her two children were in her car that was swept off the Galilee Road in Smithfield, outside of Raleigh, during a violent flash flood storm. Rising floodwaters swept the vehicle away
According to emergency officials, more than seven inches of rain fell in Smithfield overnight, causing numerous roads to flood in the area.
Recordings of the mother’s 911 calls from that night obtained by News & Observer captured the mother’s fear and panic.
Castro was heard on the tape telling emergency dispatchers, “It’s up to my knees,” in between heartbreaking cries to her children. “Baby, we’re not gonna die. Oh, my goodness. I don’t think I can get my kids out because I can’t see anything.”
The dispatcher instructed Castro to climb with her children onto the roof of the car and told her help was on the way but Castro was unable to get to her daughter, who was still trapped inside the car.
When the floodwaters emerged, Castro clung to a tree and screamed on the call, “She’s gone. She’s gone. She’s in the water. She was so scared she wouldn’t let go.”
Search teams from the Smithfield, Wilson, Princeton, and Four Oaks fire departments all responded to the 911 call that came in at 11:30 p.m., according to Johnston County emergency officials.
During the rescue mission, crews were able to save the mother and one of the children but when the rescue boat they were in capsized from the raging torrent the child slipped away and back into the treacherous waters.
Four Swiftwater rescue boats capsized in the extreme currents, authorities said, and first responders had to be saved from the turbulent waters.
Search teams actively searched for days for the missing youngsters using helicopters, heavy-duty all-terrain vehicles, and K-9s-hoping to bring the siblings home safely. While volunteers gathered to create a human prayer chain until they learned of the gruesome news.
Castro has since been discharged from the hospital, according to friends and family.
“I can’t imagine either the emotions of the family, the heartbreak, the hurt, the devastation,” said Steve Bizzell to WTVD. “It’s been tough on me. It’s been tough on the deputies. Everybody that I’ve talked to has been in continuous prayers for this family and these kids.”