EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – A Lyon County sheriff’s deputy is explaining what it was like to try and save the three teenagers who died when the car they were riding in crashed into the Cottonwood River south of Emporia Saturday night.
The crash happened near Road 150 and Road J. Police, sheriff’s deputies, fire teams and dive teams all responded to the scene, totaling roughly 30 first responders. Nathan Rankin was one of the first on the scene.
Rankin’s main focus was jumping into action. At that point, it was unclear whether the people in the car were alive. The car had veered off the road, broke through the wire fence and landed near the bank of the river. Just a few steps deeper, the water depth drops significantly.
The sole survivor, Ashley Edwards, notified the families of the victims in the car and their parents and loved ones went to the scene. Screams and cries could be heard as the crews tried to bring the car back to the road. Seventeen-year-old Chase Luby, 13-year-old Paxton Luby and 17-year-old Shelby Phoenix were killed that night.
“We treat everyone as if they were our own family,” Rankin said.
As law enforcement, their job is also to speak to those grieving families. The mothers involved lost their children just hours before Mother’s Day.
Rankin has two young children himself. He says he knew the scene will always stick with him and reminds us all to never take our families for granted.
“When you have kids, even in their dead sleep, you go home, give them a hug, give them a kiss, tell them you love them,” Rankin said.