'Tell your kids you love them every day:' family mourns children who died in C & D Canal accident

Willis Lindsey Jr.

A local family was enjoying a weekend of family time together, and was looking forward to a youth football game Sunday.

Suddenly tragedy struck.

An SUV containing three brothers, their cousin and the 18-year-old driver's girlfriend left a gravel road on the south shore of the C and D Canal and landed in the water.

Only the girl survived. She was rescued by the driver, but he died when he went under to help the others.

"It just all happened over a wrong turn," Brandi Lindsey said as she started to deal with the deaths of her sons 18-year-old Willis Lindsey, 16-year-old Kyree Lindsey and six-year-old Ethan Lindsey. Her nephew, 12-year-old Eric Lindsey, also died.

According to Willis Lindsey Sr., he was driving ahead of the SUV driven by his son. A wrong turn led them to the road on the edge of the canal, but he managed to turn around safely.

"When I look in my mirror, all I see is dust," he said. "I get back up there and his girlfriend was sitting on the rocks."

The girl said the younger Willis rescued her, but dove back into the water to try to help the others. His body was found that morning, and the bodies of Kyree and Eric also were located later in the submerged vehicle.

As of late Monday, the search was continuing for Ethan Lindsey in what was termed a recovery operation.

"I do understand why he went back," Brandi Lindsey said of her son, Willis and his actions. "I just try to picture his world, knowing how he would have felt knowing he survived and they didn't."

"You don't anticipate to have to bury your own children. You want your children to live," she said. "I miss them."

Larry Simpson, who coached several of the Lindsey boys in football, said "I just really believe Willis is that kid that would really go out of his way to try to help his brothers, especially in that kind of scenario."

"Tell your kids you love them every day - every day," Willis Lindsey Sr. said. "You just don't know when something like this could happen."

"I wouldn't wish it on anybody."