5-year-old Kyle Doan, now missing, encouraged his mother after their SUV was swept away by Central California floodwaters Monday morning.
“Don’t worry, Mom,” the boy said, his father, Brian Doan, recalled Wednesday.
“He didn’t quite process what was going on,” Doan told CNN. “But he spoke very quietly to my wife while she was in the car.”
The latest powerful storm to hit the West Coast has turned streets into rivers and forced the closure of major roads in California. Almost 20 lives have been lost During a series of storms in recent weeks, a spokeswoman for the California governor’s office of emergency services said Wednesday it was “one of the worst disasters in our state’s history.”
Authorities have been searching for Kyle since Monday.
Kyle’s mother, a special education teacher at the same school in the San Luis Obispo County village of San Miguel where he attends kindergarten, removed the boy from his car seat when their SUV flooded on the way to school.
“”You are. Not your bag. Let it go when they are ready to escape, as Don said,’ she told him.
Kyle’s mom held him like water Dropped into a low spot on a country road and started driving.
Pieces of debris mixed with the mounting flood water Kyle’s mom holds the boy, carrying a small wallet with ID cards and his phone.
“She was trying to hold onto him and it was hard to stabilize things with the current,” Doan said. “They broke up.”
No one can question her actions, he asserted.
“She made great decisions,” Doan said, his voice breaking. “I have to keep stressing that. She couldn’t be in the car with him. Leaps was going to wreck the car later… they got out. That was the right thing to do.”
The SUV was later found upside down and covered in mud and debris, Doan said. His wife was pulled safely from the water.
The search for Kyle, with the help of other law enforcement agencies, continued Wednesday after being halted the previous afternoon due to low visibility. The initial search was suspended Monday afternoon due to severe weather, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
Don lamented that he wasn’t optimistic.
“It’s a hard thing to say to a lot of people at this point, it’s not a recovery. It’s a recovery,” the voice broke again. “That’s something no parent wants to admit. I knew it after the first night…and it’s a hard, hard concept, especially when it’s your child.
Doan said no one has officially called the search a rescue operation.
“I’ve seen enough, you know. It’s tough,” he said. “You know what the opportunities are. As much as people try to be confident – I support my wife – it’s hard. The first night was really hard – ‘Oh my God, why couldn’t they find him already?’
The past year has been a tough one for Kyle, his father said. The boy tripped and fell at preschool and suffered an injury that required surgery and a broken leg with rods.
“He was cool about it,” Doan recalled. “He was very compliant. Two months later he started walking. It was like no one knew he had wires in his leg.
In November, the stems were removed. There was a six-week treatment period and the restrictions on his movement are now ending. Kyle was excited to start school on Monday after the holidays.
“He was a great kid and he loved to dance,” Doan said. “He was very talkative, very expressive. He loved to have fun and tried to get attention in all the ways a five-year-old would. He loved playing soccer and he loved practicing his paw patrol.
She added, “He was looking forward to going back to school.”
“Lifelong social media lover. Falls down a lot. Creator. Devoted food aficionado. Explorer. Typical troublemaker.”