WHITE OAK — The mother of a 4-year-old boy who drowned in White Lake on June 15 is behind bars, charged with felony child abuse.
Deputies with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office arrested Teresa Denise Lauderback at her home in White Oak on Thursday at about 5:40 p.m.
According to a story in the Bladen Journal on June 19, White Lake Police officers responded to the lake inside Camp Clearwater on a report of a possible drowning at about 12:30 p.m. on June 15. When they arrived just 5 minutes later, 4-year-old Donicio Noe Mendez was unresponsive and being attended to by an unidentified good Samaritan who was performing CPR on the pier.
Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw said that, once personnel from the White Lake Fire Department and State Parks & Recreation arrived, they took over the medical care of the child until Bladen County EMS arrived. The child was then taken to Cape Fear Valley Hospital in Elizabethtown where he was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m.
According to the initial report, White Lake Sgt. Mike Salmon said the boy was swimming with his two older brothers, ages 11 and 13, when the incident happened. He was told that the mother looked away for a moment trying to locate one of her other children on shore. That’s when she said she heard a scream and saw the child being pulled from the water.
Lauderback is being held in the Bladen County Jail under a $50,000 secured bond.
The investigation has been jointly handled by the White Lake Police Department, Bladen County District Attorney’s’s Office and Bladen County Department of Social Services.
— W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.