Second child removed from home after baby’s possible drowning

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Department of Children's Services has removed a second child from the Northeast Memphis home where an 11-month-old boy died in a possible drowning Thursday.

The family has identified the victim as Dawson Lanham, and says he would have turned 1 later this month.

Police say the boy died at a Bartlett hospital after being found unresponsive in the bathtub at his home on Van Hersh Drive.

Neighbors watched as EMTs carried Dawson’s lifeless body to an ambulance.

“It’s just the sadness of it. A baby died," said neighbor Bill Byars.

Byars knows all too well the pain of losing a child because he and his wife lost their daughter about a year ago.

“Everybody reacts differently," he said. "It’s gonna hurt, that’s all I can tell you. It’s gonna hurt bad.”

Social workers immediately took Dawson's 2-year-old brother, Mason, into custody, according to family. They also say Mason had celebrated his second birthday the same day Dawson died.

Their father, Charles Lanham, tells WREG the boys' mother had custody, despite his efforts to change that.

“It’s very hard, man. It’s very hard, man," he said, fighting back tears.

Investigators won’t release any more details about the circumstances surrounding Dawson’s death, citing the ongoing investigation.

Lanham says police also refused to give him any more information.

“They pretty much didn’t tell me nothing except just took my name and number and wanted to get back with me," he said.

Loved ones cried, hugged and prayed outside the boys’ home Thursday, hours after the scene had cleared.

It could take weeks for the autopsy results to come in to determine the official cause of death.

In the meantime, Lanham tells WREG he plans to keep fighting for custody of his oldest son.

“Do what I can to do my due diligence to get my son and get him back into the loving arms of his father and his family," he said.

WREG tried to talk to the boys’ mother Saturday, but no one answered at the home.

Police say no charges have been filed in the case.


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