Lindsey Doan did not believe the water rushing over the creek crossing on San Marcos Road was deeper than usual when she drove her 5-year-old son to school in an SUV.
However, the creek, swollen with rain from California’s legendary winter storms, was considerably taller and swifter than she had anticipated. Doan cursed as she lost control of the steering and the 4,300-pound Chevrolet Traverse was carried off the road and impaled on a big sycamore tree.
Kyle reassured his mother, “Mom, it’s OK,” from the back seat. “Just be calm.”
They were the last words the child spoke to his mother before his fingers slipped from hers and he was swept away on Monday near Paso Robles on California’s central coast.
This photograph, which was donated by the Doan family, depicts Kyle Doan. Doan relatives via AP
“Yesterday I got to the point where I think I ran out of tears,” Doan told the Associated Press. “I simply no longer know what to expect. I mean, I attempted a Google search: How long can a toddler go without food? How long can they remain in wet attire? … We are concerned because I do not believe they will be able to locate him.”
More than 100 people, including National Guard troops, dive teams, searchers using dogs and drones, and individuals sifting through shoulder-high driftwood piles on the banks of San Marcos Creek, continued their hunt for Kyle for a third day on Wednesday. So yet, only one of his blue and gray Nike shoes has been located.
Authorities have deemed the search a “top priority.”
At least 18 people have been killed by the storms that have persistently hammered California since the end of last year. The majority of fatalities have resulted from falling trees and individuals driving on flooded highways.
Kyle was reported to be missing.
In this image released by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, rescuers restart their search for 5-year-old Kyle Doan, who was washed away by floodwaters near San Miguel, California, two days prior. AP via the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office
He is the youngest in his family, with a sister in high school and a brother in college, and he enjoys being the focus of attention.
His mother remarked, “He definitely capitalized on it,” “He enjoys making others laugh. He desired for everyone to smile. He enjoys pleasing others.”
Kyle was eager to return to kindergarten on Monday at Lillian Larsen Elementary School, according to his mother. It was the first day he would be able to play without restrictions after undergoing three surgeries to repair a broken leg, and he was excited to see his classmates.
Doan, a special education teacher at the school, was less enthused, wishing she had a few more days off as she drove from their house near Paso Robles along a rural road.
During the majority of the year, the creek running alongside San Marcos Road resembles numerous California rivers and streams in that it is a winding strip of sand that only runs during the winter and spring. When the water is flowing, it is usually possible to drive through the shallow water that flows over the road in certain spots.
On Sunday, the Doan family traveled the same path to a truck stop along Highway 101, plunging through the water without incident.
Monday, as Doan neared the creek in a light rain, there were no road restrictions and she did not see any changes from the previous day.
“But as soon as I hit the bottom, my car started to drift and I realized that it wasn’t the same,” she added. It was radically different.
Scotty Jalbert, the manager of emergency services for San Luis Obispo County, remarked that river crossings can be misleading and that people can get into problems after crossing them successfully multiple times. As little as 6 inches of water can knock a person off their feet and even shove a fast-moving automobile off course.
Jalbert stated, “We use the term, ‘Turn around, don’t drown,'” “When first responders arrived at the scene of this tragedy, water was covering the vehicle. Clearly, this type of energy will lead to a negative outcome.”
Jalbert advised anyone stranded in a car that is taking on water should exit the vehicle and, if feasible, climb onto the roof.
Neil Collins and his wife Danielle, who operate an orchard along San Marcos Road, had gone to the stream earlier that morning to determine if they could cross the floodwaters.
When he observed waves of murky brown water and a steady current bringing sturdy oak and sycamore branches downstream, he remarked, “This isn’t going to end well for someone.”
Within fifteen minutes, his forecast was realized.
Doan opted to abandon her automobile after it began to absorb water after coming to rest against the trees. She was able to open her door and embrace a tree despite the inoperable windows. She instructed Kyle to abandon his possessions and move into the front seat as the rear door was pinned shut by the current.
She stated, “I don’t care about your backpack,” “I just want you to come to me.”
She managed to clutch his hand, but her hold was fragile, and the current carried Kyle around the opposite side of the tree.
She stated, “I could feel his fingers slipping from mine,”
As the water separated them, she let go of the tree to rescue her non-swimmer kid.
She added, “I saw his head kind of floating and he was looking at me because he was going backwards,” “I attempted to keep my head above water, but the currents kept dragging me under. I eventually lost sight of Kyle and what was occurring.”
Collins failed to observe Doan’s entry into the creek. However, her shouts attracted his attention.
He added, “I looked at my wife and said, ‘That sounds like a human,'” “I heard a second scream and just ran up the river.”
During a typical winter, the river may be waist-deep, but he estimated that when it was flowing, it was up to 12 feet deep and four times its breadth.
After observing Lindsey Doan trying to keep afloat, Collins observed a second body floating in the middle of the creek and concluded that it was lifeless. Therefore, he concentrated on Doan, who was closer to shore.
While his wife dialed 911 and orchard workers provided a rope, he sprinted with her downriver as his wife called for assistance and orchard workers brought a rope. Doan eventually managed to grip some underwater shrubs, and Collins and his colleagues threw her a lifeline.
Collins stated that Doan was distraught when she made it to shore. Then he noticed that the other figure that had passed was her young son.
If Doan had floated an additional 100 yards, it is unlikely that he could have saved her. A berm and barbed wire fence would have prohibited him from following her.
He stated, “Time was running out,”
The father of Kyle, Brian Doan, is happy that his wife was saved. He does not condemn her for taking that course and believes she acted appropriately in attempting to save their son.
Lindsey Doan cannot quit having second thoughts.
She added, “In the back of your mind, it’s like, ‘Well, what if, what if, what if I just turned around and went back the other way?'” “What if I had simply decided, “Hey, you know, let’s not take this road today?” I do not believe that will ever go.”
When asked what her son might say to her at this time, Doan took a moment to collect her thoughts before stating that Kyle has always wished for his family’s happiness and well-being.
“Perhaps he would respond, ‘There’s nothing you can do, Mom, everything’s OK.’ Everything will be alright.”
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