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Charges dropped in deadly North Carolina dirt pit collapse

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - A judge has dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against a North Carolina man whose young daughter and nephew died when the dirt pit he was digging collapsed on them, his lawyer said on Friday.

The ruling came after Jordan Arwood's attorney said he had argued at a hearing on Thursday that the deaths in April were the result of a tragic accident and not criminal negligence.

"It was kind of a stretch by law enforcement in charging him," Charlotte defense attorney Brad Smith, who represented Arwood, said in an interview.

Arwood, 32, was charged in September with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. His 6-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old nephew were playing in the 24-foot-deep (7-meter-deep) hole Arwood had been digging on his property when a dirt wall surrounding it collapsed.

Rescue workers searched more than 12 hours before recovering the children's bodies on the property in Lincoln County, about 20 miles northwest of Charlotte.

Neighbors said Arwood had been constructing a three-story house and that the first two floors were to be underground, according to the Charlotte Observer. The paper reported that Arwood did not have building permits.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Karen Brooks and Lisa Von Ahn)

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