Six-year-old Tahjir Burrowes walked out of his Florida home on October 5, wearing only a diaper and a T-shirt, and headed straight for a hurricane-flooded canal.
His mother said he had the worst kind of autism and was always drawn to water. The storm had broken down the fence around their property, giving the nonverbal boy the brief chance he needed to get away without being caught.
Tahjon, who is 17 years old, knew something was wrong when he came out of the bathroom and couldn’t find his younger brother.
He knocked on the door of his mother. “Mom, mom, mom! He yelled, “Tahjir got out of the house!” and then ran out the door.
Their mother, Lachera Burrowes, jumped right into her car and drove to the canal near where they lived in Lehigh. When she got there, it was quiet and the murky water was still.
“I saw nothing,” she said. “Quiet.”
She called the police and had them search the whole neighborhood. After a few hours, a detective showed up at her door. The police found the bodies of her two sons in a canal. They had drowned there.
Burrowes knows in her heart that Tahjon must have jumped in after his brother. Even though they were different ages, they were best friends, and Tahjon knew just what to do to make his brother happy and calm.
“I don’t think one can exist without the other. “He couldn’t just stand there and not jump in,” she said, adding that if she had been there first, she would have done the same thing.
A spokeswoman for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the two brothers had died. She also said that there were no signs of foul play.
Burrowes thought she had done all she could to protect her family. Even though the single mother lived from paycheck to paycheck, she paid for a hotel room in Port St. Lucie so that she, her three sons, and her mother could leave the area.
Burrowes, who works as a counselor for people with drug and alcohol problems, knew that Tahjir was sensitive to storms and that Hurricane Irma had left their home in the dark in 2017, so she wanted to keep that from happening again.
Local and state officials have said that Hurricane Ian is to blame for more than 130 deaths, which NBC News has added up. That makes it the worst hurricane to hit Florida since 1935.
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