A year after NC toddler’s death, woman pushes for changes to law

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) —  After a North Carolina toddler’s death, there is a push to change the law to try to prevent it from happening again.

Rylan Ott

Rylan Ott died a year ago Friday after wandering from his home in Moore County and drowning in a nearby pond.

It’s hoped that “Rylan’s Law” could save another child’s life.

In Rylan Ott’s short life, he impacted a lot of people.

Friday was difficult for many of them.

“And, I guess it’s guilt for lack of a better word to call it,” said Pam Reed.


Reed was Rylan’s volunteer guardian ad litem after Moore County Social Services took custody of him.

She had concerns about 23-month-old Ott being returned to his mother, Samantha Bryant’s, care.

A few months after that happened, Ott wandered from home and drowned.

“I never asked, ‘Did you observe them?’ I assumed that they did. And, shame on me,” Reed said.

The mother, Samantha Nacole Bryant

Since his death, Reed has pushed for change in Moore County’s Social Services office.

The agency’s director recently resigned after an independent investigation.

Now, Reed is looking statewide.

“You don’t just put a toddler back without ever watching, and that’s what happened with Rylan,” Reed said.

After meeting with state lawmakers, they introduced a bill called “Rylan’s Law” last week.

It would require social workers to observe two successful visits between a child and parent before recommending trial placement or reunification.

“It would be something really bittersweet out of a senseless little boy’s death,” Reed said.

But, it’s a measure that may help prevent something similar happening to another child.

Rylan’s mother, Samantha Bryant, is still in prison awaiting trial.

Reed says she’ll be moving out of the state soon but will be returning as much as necessary to get Rylan’s Law passed.

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