The anguished mother of a California tot who was swept away in raging floodwaters Monday wishes good Samaritans had saved her boy instead of her, according to a report.
The special education teacher was driving her son, Kyle Doan, 5, to kindergarten in an SUV near Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County when relentless rains eventually lifted their vehicle off the road and began to carry it away.
The vehicle then hit a tree and began filling with water.
The panicked mother managed to exit the car with Kyle but was unable to hold on to him as he was stripped from her arms amid the roaring floodwaters.
Nearby residents rushed to pull the panicked mother from the water but were unable to get to Kyle. Rescuers continued to search for him Wednesday as weather conditions eased in the area.
“My wife feels awful because she would have rather they saved him, but she was the closest one they could get to,” his father, Brian Doan, told the New York Times. “They did what they could.”
The shattered father told the newspaper that his son tried to calm his mother as their car began to float.
“My wife told me that my son said, ‘Don’t worry, Mommy,’” Doan said.
Their Chevy Traverse was located several hours after Doan went missing, and search parties later found one of his Nike shoes.
“Kyle was a blessing, he was a child of love. He was a great kid,” Doan told the Times. “It’s so unfair.”
With hopes of a rescue ebbing with each passing hour, the gutted father said his wife did the best should could amid desperate circumstances.
“She made the best decisions she could,” Doan told CNN. “I got to keep stressing that. She couldn’t stay in the car with him. The flows were going to overpower the car later on … They got out. That was the right thing to do.”
California has been pounded by rainfall in recent weeks, with the state’s central region the hardest hit.
Unrelenting rains and winds have claimed at least 17 lives, battering shorelines and triggering mud and rock slides near busy roadways.