No charges filed in lawnmower death of toddler in Tabor City

House in Tabor City, Courtesy: WMBF News Reporter Mark Meredith
House in Tabor City, Courtesy: WMBF News Reporter Mark Meredith
Mario Lewis, Jr.
Mario Lewis, Jr.
Courtesy: WMBF News Reporter Mark Meredith
Courtesy: WMBF News Reporter Mark Meredith
The lawnmower that killed Mario (Source: WECT Reporter Gavin Johnson)
The lawnmower that killed Mario (Source: WECT Reporter Gavin Johnson)

TABOR CITY, NC (WMBF) - After determining the tragic death of a Tabor City toddler killed by a lawnmower was an accident, the District's Attorney's office in Bolivia, NC announced no charges will be filed in the fatal incident.

Tabor City Police conducted a thorough investigation into what they called one of the most gruesome cases they have ever seen when a three-year-old boy was killed by his family's lawnmower on Aug. 17.

The incident happened around 4 p.m. on West Third Street when Mario Lewis Jr., 3, was pinned under a riding lawnmower. The child had been playing in a yard where an acquaintance of the family was mowing the grass. As the man was cutting the grass he noticed he needed to move a trampoline out of his way to complete the job. He placed the riding lawnmower in neutral, and as his back was turned to the lawnmower, heard a scream from Mario.

According to the press release from District Attorney Jon David, Mario was running from the mower which was now in gear, moving toward the child. Mario fell and his leg was caught under the mower.

The man who had previously been cutting the grass ran to lift the lawn mower from off the toddler, and when doing so the mower blade shifted up, striking Mario in the head.

The child was taken to Loris Hospital in South Carolina but did not survive. His cause of death was listed as massive head trauma associated with an injury he received from a lawn mower.

Neighbor Peggy Watson Soles said she had seen Mario playing with her nephew only thirty minutes before his death.

"It's just indescribable," Soles said. "It's not something I would wish on my own worst enemy."

The man riding the lawnmower was interviewed briefly on the evening of the incident, and after further investigation it was determined that he was not completely familiar with the lawnmower being used. In addition, the mower had a defect, causing the blade to be in a lowered "cut" position at all times. He faces no charges in the death of the 3-year-old.

The press release states that Mario's family was invited to the District Attorney's office to review the entire investigation file. After hearing the facts, the family agreed that the mower operator should not be criminally charged as they likewise view this death as accidental in nature.

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