VASS, N.C. (WNCN) – The tragic death of a 23-month-old boy Thursday night has the Moore County Sheriff’s Office looking at whether the mother should be charged.
Officials were called to a home on Pond Branch Road off Heritage Farm Road shortly after 4 p.m. for reports of a missing child. The child, identified as Rylan Ott, was last seen playing in the yard of the home.
CBS North Carolina has learned that the mother, Samantha Nacole Bryant, has a history of child abuse.
Court documents show she was under DSS supervision and on probation when her toddler disappeared.
Bryant was arrested in October 2015 on two counts of misdemeanor child abuse.
Documents show the state deferred prosecution in February 2016, as long as she cooperated with DSS and her probation officer.
“People make mistakes. Things happen,” said her neighbor, Stephanie Calcutt. “But when you know your son likes to wander, you need to keep a close eye out on him.”
Calcutt helped Bryant look for Rylan on Thursday but they could not find him.
“I told her we need to call the Sheriff’s Department,” Calcutt said.
K-9 tracking dogs from Southern Pines Police Department and the North Carolina Department of Corrections assisted in the search for the child.
A helicopter from UNC-Chapel Hill and then from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol arrived on the scene to assist in the search.
Just before 6 p.m., Rylan was found by Moore County deputies floating in a small pond in an area off of Pond Branch Road.
The deputies immediately started CPR and called for an ambulance. The child was declared dead after arriving at the hospital.
The child will be sent to Raleigh for an autopsy.
Bryant was hospitalized for observation after the death, authorities said.