Willis Lindsey Sr. had a message for parents Monday as he continued to mourn the loss of his three sons and nephew who were all killed after their car crashed into a canal in Middletown, Delaware.
"I just want people to know that you should tell your kids you love them every day," Lindsey said. "Every day because you just don't know. Something like this could happen."
Lindsey Sr. and his family were on their way to a football game Sunday morning. He was driving one vehicle while his 18-year-old son, Willis Lindsey Jr., was driving another. Lindsey Jr.'s two brothers, 16-year-old Kyree and 6-year-old Ethan, as well as his 16-year-old girlfriend and 12-year-old cousin, were also in the vehicle with him.
They were driving near the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, about one mile west of the Sen. William V. Roth Jr. Bridge around 9:40 a.m., when they made a wrong turn.
Lindsey Sr. managed to turn around safely on Canal Road. As Lindsey Jr. turned however, he somehow lost control of his vehicle which plunged into the southern side of the canal.
Rather than save himself, Lindsey Jr. first pulled his girlfriend to safety. He then swam back in the water to try and save his younger brothers and cousin.
"I wouldn't imagine he would've did anything different," Lindsey Sr. told NBC10. "That was him."
Larry Simpson, a family friend who coached all three of the Lindsey boys in football, agrees.
"I just really believe Willis was that kid that would really go out of his way to try and help his brothers," Simpson said. "Especially in that scenario."
Despite his efforts, Lindsey Jr. was unable to get them out. All three brothers as well as their cousin died as the car sunk in about 20 feet of water.
"You don't anticipate having to bury your own children," the boys' mother, Brandi Lindsey, told NBC10. "You want your children to live."
A multiagency operation, including dive teams, located the submerged car around 3 p.m. Sunday. It was pulled out of the water two hours later.
Crews have not yet recovered the body of Ethan, the youngest victim. They will continue their search on Tuesday.
"We've barely slept and I haven't been able to eat but I'm just trying to take it one day at a time," Brandi Lindsey said. "I know it's not something I'm going to get over today or tomorrow but I miss them."
Police continue to investigate the accident. Loved ones meanwhile are trying to make sense of the devastating loss.
"They were just great," Simpson said. "They were definitely the kids that you want as your own. How does this happen to a great family?"