NEW CASTLE COUNTY, Del. (CBS) — Three young members of one family are dead and another is missing after police say a vehicle plunged into a canal in New Castle County. It happened around 9:41 a.m. on the south-side of the C&D canal, about one mile west of the William V Roth Jr. Bridge, on Sunday.
The missing 6-year-old boy is presumed to have drowned.
Investigators are still working on figuring out what caused the 18-year-old driver to lose control.
Delaware State Police call the accident a horrible tragedy. Authorities are in the early stages of their investigation, but the boys’ family says the brothers were all very close.
They were on the way to watch their youngest brother play in a youth football game when tragedy struck.
Rosetta Taylor can hardly believe she’ll never talk to some of her great grandchildren again after the grey car they were riding in veered off the south-side of the gravel road, went over the embankment and plunged into the Chesapeake and Delaware canal on Sunday morning.
“They were my great grans,” Taylor said.
The only survivor is a 16-year-old girl.
“One got out, a girl. She was in the car, she got out. But the other four didn’t make it,” Taylor said.
The victims are 18-year-old Willis Lindsey and his younger brothers, who were 16 and 6 years old. A 12-year-old cousin of theirs also died.
Larry Simpson had coached the three brothers in a youth football league.
“You can’t even imagine to lose one kid, but to lose three in one day, it’s unbelievable,” Simpson said.
The sole survivor of the crash told police the driver of the car was Willis, who managed to get out and help her to shore.
Willis then went back into the water to try to rescue his brothers.
“He loved his family like unbelievable. I can really see him rather stay down there with them than come up without them,” Simpson said. “I really believe that. That was Willis.”
First responders later discovered his body and pronounced him dead on scene.
“He was a hero and tried to do everything he could to help the remaining passengers in that vehicle,” Delaware State Police Master Corporal Michael Austin said.
Police haven’t said what led up to the crash, but family members say they were never supposed to be on the gravel road. They say the boys probably got lost and tried turning around before the deadly accident.