Heartbroken Dad of Tot Swept Away by Floods Recalls Their Last Moments Together
Brian Doan remembers waving to his son on Monday morning as the 5-year-old hopped into an SUV with his mom to head to his first day of kindergarten since their holiday break.Not long after that sweet goodbye, tragedy struck.As Doan was dropping his daughter off at her school, he got a call no parent ever
Brian Doan remembers waving to his son on Monday morning as the 5-year-old hopped into an SUV with his mom to head to his first day of kindergarten since their holiday break.
Not long after that sweet goodbye, tragedy struck.
As Doan was dropping his daughter off at her school, he got a call no parent ever wants to hear: “Kyle is gone,” his wife, clearly distressed, yelled into the phone. Kyle Doan, 5, had been swept away by fast-rising floodwaters in San Miguel, California, that’d engulfed their vehicle on the way to school.
Kyle’s mother, Lindsy Doan, managed to escape with help from some good Samaritans, but the fast-moving stream washed her son out of her arms as they tried to reach safety, Brian said. Despite a massive search, Kyle hasn’t been seen since.
Lindsy’s Chevrolet Traverse was found hours later—flipped upside down and filled with debris, Brian said. He thinks their family would be dealing with two missing persons had Lindsy not tried to escape the vehicle when she did.
“When they said they lost Kyle, I just thought, ‘oh, God, this can’t be real,’” Brian told The Daily Beast on Wednesday, his voice breaking. “But quickly you realize you have to act, so I started making calls.”
Now, more than 48 hours since Kyle went missing, Brian concedes it’s unlikely his son will be found alive. He still holds out hope, but says his family really needs closure.
“Right now we’re just wishing for some closure, just some news to get us out of this horrible waiting game,” Brian said. “I know the next point and it’s not something you look forward to, but we have to get through it.”
Kyle’s disappearance came amid an already-trying time for the Doan family: Just last week his wife’s grandfather died, and they’re still reeling from that loss.
Brian said he’s heartbroken that Kyle, who recently needed three surgeries and a metal rod to heal a fractured femur, likely won’t ever play soccer again as he’d been eager to do since his injury on a preschool playground in 2021.
“He was very adaptable with the recovery,” Brian said. “He’d just got back into running, playing soccer, and just being a kid again. He waited and worked so long for that.”
During breakfast together early Monday, Brian said that Kyle was eager to return to school and his friends. It was the first day back not only for his three kids, but also for him—a substitute teacher at a middle school—and his wife, who is a special-education teacher at Kyle’s school.
“He was motivated and happy to get back to his friends,” Brian said. “I told him to finish up his breakfast and to have a good day at school. He was a bright kid, very outgoing and smart. He was ready to get back to learning.”
Brian said things were slightly behind schedule Monday since it was their household’s first day back into the school routine. During the rush, he said he didn’t give Kyle a hug goodbye—something he’d otherwise do every day.
The Doans had driven on the same road where Kyle was washed away from just hours earlier on Sunday afternoon. Brian said he noticed there was a bit of mud slippage on the road, which is flanked with creeks on both sides, but that’d been the norm this January as California has been battered with heavy rains.
Brian said there was nothing that indicated water could take over the road hours later, and, on Monday morning, there’d been no warnings broadcast or roadblocks in place until after Kyle went missing around 7:15 a.m.
Cal Fire, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, San Luis Obispo County Search and Rescue, and the California Highway Patrol searched for about four hours for Kyle on Monday morning before calling it off due to deteriorating conditions.
Countless roads were undrivable on Monday in Central California, where another woman drowned after her car was overtaken by floodwaters not far from where Kyle disappeared.
Authorities have used drones, underwater search teams, and helicopters to search for Kyle. Brian said he’s been overwhelmed by the hundreds of people who’ve taken the time to search for his son, but emphasized they should do so only if the conditions are safe.
Brian said he’s been frustrated by misinformation that’s been spread online about the incident and his wife’s actions. He said Lindsy did everything she could to save their son, who was buckled in a car seat before water took over the SUV, and that she’s repeatedly exclaimed she wishes the water swept her away instead of Kyle.
“She feels it’s not fair she was closer to the edge but she’s who survived,” Brian said. “It’s just an unfortunate series of events you wouldn’t wish upon anybody.”