Originally created 12/18/06

Cave-in kills two teens



Two Aiken County teens were killed Sunday when they were buried in the collapse of a dirt embankment, officials said.

Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton said the parents of Joshua McLaughlin, 15, began to look for their son and his friend, Mathew Morris, 14, after becoming concerned about their whereabouts Sunday afternoon.

Joshua's uncle discovered his nephew's body behind the McLaughlin home on Gray Mare Hollow Road in a landslide of earth and sand and called 911, according to a statement from Mr. Carlton.

Joshua was pronounced dead about 4 p.m.

The lifeless body of Mathew Morris was discovered about an hour later, the statement said.

The Aiken County Coroner's Office is investigating the circumstances of their deaths. Their bodies were sent to Newberry, S.C., for autopsies.

New Ellenton Fire Chief Clifford Crawford said his department was called to assist at the collapse of a dirt bank off Gray Mare Hollow Road about 2:30 p.m. Chief Crawford said the two teens were trapped in the cave-in at a clay excavation pit.

About 8 p.m., family members and friends began congregating at the one-story rural ranch-style home, surrounded by barbed-wire fencing decorated with red Christmas bows.

Jeff Overcash, 49, was there to counsel family members.

"We were at church preparing for a Christmas party when we heard about the accident," said Mr. Overcash, who saw the boys that morning when he taught their Sunday school class at nearby Heights Baptist Church.

"This is a horrible tragedy and a parents' worst nightmare, because you never expect to bury your children."

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.