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Originally published Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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NC father of dirt collapse victim faces charges

The North Carolina father who was working in a two-story-deep hole that collapsed killing his daughter and her cousin faces drug and firearms charges.

The Associated Press

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STANLEY, N.C. —

The North Carolina father who was working in a two-story-deep hole that collapsed killing his daughter and her cousin faces drug and firearms charges.

The Lincoln County sheriff's department said Jordan Arwood, 31, of Stanley, is charged with possession of a gun by a felon, and making a controlled substance. He was being held Tuesday in the county jail on $20,000 bond.

Arwood was operating a backhoe in a pit last week when the walls caved in on the children. The bodies of 6-year-old Chloe Jade Arwood and 7-year-old James Levi Caldwell were dug out the next day.

While investigating the accident, sheriff's deputies removed six firearms including an AR-15 rifle and a marijuana plant from Arwood's home.

The sheriff's office said it was still investigating the case. When investigators finish, they plan to present their findings to the district attorney's office to determine if charges will be filed.

Officials described the pit as 20 feet by 20 feet with a sloped entrance leading down to the 24-foot bottom. The children were at the bottom of the construction site retrieving a child-sized pickaxe when the walls fell in on them. No permits had been issued for Arwood to dig on the site.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Arwood said he worked frantically to save the children from the wall of falling dirt that killed them but they were just outside his reach. He says he dug faster and faster trying to save the children until he couldn't breathe.

Investigators say they still don't know why Arwood was digging the hole. But he said he was building a rammed earth home, an ancient building method where dirt is used to shape the foundation.

Arwood said he had been digging the hole for three months.

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