Before He Was Swept Away, Boy Told His Mom, 'It's OK'

Kyle Doan is still missing after California's severe storms
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 12, 2023 2:00 AM CST
Before He Was Swept Away, Boy Told His Mom, 'It's OK'
In this undated photo provided by the Doan family, Kyle Doan poses with his mother, Lindsy Doan. The 5-year-old was swept away by floodwaters near San Miguel, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. Search efforts for the missing boy continued for a third day, Wednesday, Jan. 11.   (Courtesy of the Doan Family via AP)

Lindsy Doan didn’t think the water flowing over the creek crossing on San Marcos Road was deeper than normal when she tried navigating it in her SUV while driving her 5-year-old son to school. But the creek, swollen with rain from California's epic winter storms, was much higher and flowing stronger than she anticipated. Doan cursed as she lost control of the steering and the 4,300-pound Chevy Traverse was carried off the road and pinned against a large sycamore tree. “Mom, it’s OK,” her son, Kyle, reassured her from the back seat. “Just be calm." They were the last words the little boy said to his mother before his fingers slipped away from hers and he was swept away Monday on California's central coast near Paso Robles, the AP reports.

More than 100 people, including National Guard troops, dive teams, searchers using dogs and drones and people picking through shoulder-high piles of driftwood on the banks of San Marcos Creek searched for a third day Wednesday for Kyle. So far, they've found only one of his blue and gray Nike shoes. When Doan approached their familiar route, which they'd splashed through without incident the day prior, on Monday in light rain, there were no road closures and she didn't think it looked any different from the day before. “But as soon as I hit the bottom, my car started to drift and I realized that it wasn’t the same," she said. "It was completely different." After Doan’s car came to a rest against the trees it began taking on water, so she decided to abandon it.

The windows wouldn’t go down, but she was able to open her door and hug a tree. With the current pinning the rear door closed, she told Kyle to leave his belongings and climb into the front seat. “I don’t care about your backpack,” she said. “I just want you to come to me.” She was able to grab his hand but her grip was tenuous and the current swept Kyle around the other side of the tree. “I could feel his fingers slipping from mine,” she said. As the water pulled them apart, she let go of the tree to try to get her son, who couldn't swim. "I was trying to keep my head above the water, but the currents kept pulling me down," she says. "And after a while I didn’t see Kyle or what was going on.” A man who lives nearby heard her screams and rescued her from the river.

(More California stories.)

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