Kyle Doan, 5, encouraged his mother after their SUV was swept away by floodwaters in central California Monday morning. His father recalled the little boy telling her, “don’t worry, Mommy.”
California has been hit by a powerful storm that has turned streets into rivers and closed major roadways. California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spokesman on Wednesday described recent storms as “one of the deadliest disasters in our state’s history” after nearly 20 lives were lost.
Since Monday, authorities have been searching for 5-year-old Kyle intermittently. On Wednesday, more than 100 National Guard members arrived at the scene to search for the missing child, and more troops are expected to arrive on Thursday.
His mother, who teaches special education at the school where Kyle attends kindergarten, managed to remove Kyle from his car seat as floodwaters overwhelmed their SUV. The flooding took place while they were on their way to school.
As water poured over a low point in the rural road, Kyle’s mom held onto him.
During the flood, debris mixed with the rising water as Kyle’s mom clutched her son closer to her. She also was holding onto a small purse that contained her phone and IDs.
However, the current of the floodwater was too powerful and the pair became separated.
The mother described the terrifying moment her child slipped away from her. “I was basically at that point hugging the tree and trying to grab Kyle’s hands, but the current pushed Kyle out and our hands slipped,” Lindsy Doan reported to CNN affiliate KSBY in a statement.
The SUV was later found upside down and covered in debris and mud. In the end, the mother was rescued from the water safely.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the initial search had been suspended due to severe weather Monday afternoon. Kyle’s search was continued on Wednesday with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies. The previous afternoon, it was halted due to low visibility.