Boy, 9, found dead in backyard

A 9-year-old Morganton boy was found dead by his mother Saturday afternoon, strangled by a rope on a swing in his backyard, his father said.

Ayden Crawley was pronounced dead at Grace Hospital, where he was taken after his mother found him an inch off the ground outside their home in Lee Loop, according to his family and the Burke County Sheriff's Office.

He'd spent Saturday morning watching cartoons. Then he put on some warm clothes and headed outside to the rope swing in his favorite tree, said his father, Jerry Crawley.

“My wife walked outside, saw him playing up in his tree,” said Jerry Crawley, an assistant football coach at Patton High School. “She went back inside, and about 15 minutes later, she went back out there and saw him hanging.”

Crawley said he got his son down and began CPR, but Ayden never regained consciousness. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to authorities.

Ayden was a fourth-grader at Salem Elementary School, where grief counselors will work Monday. He often shadowed his dad at football practices and games, getting balls for referees and players.

In lieu of flowers, his family asked that people contribute to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

WCNC-TV (36) contributed.