It was a parent's worst nightmare. The accident in Seminole killed all three of their children, because of the recklessness of a drunk driver. For the first time, Dirk and Tara Lindsey speak out about how wonderful their family was, and how in an instant a drunk driver can change everything.
It was perhaps the worst accident ever in Seminole last August when three children in the same family were killed. “As we got close to the scene, we could hear the first responder say, ‘It's bad,” recalls Tony Rocha, of Seminole EMS.
“I took care of two kids I couldn't save. All the training that I had, I couldn't save them,” says Crystal Martin, of Seminole EMS. “Then they told me there was another one,” said Teri French, of Seminole EMS.
Dirk and Tara were rushed to Lubbock after the accident, unaware that 10-year-old Rachel, 6-year-old Madelyn and 1-month-old Yates were all dead. “She kept asking over and over, ‘How's my kids? Where's my kids?” recalls Stuart Davidson, of Seminole EMS.
“Our condition was so bad, they didn't know if we could handle it. We kept asking people and they wouldn't tell us,” says Dirk.
Yates was in his car seat by one of the doors. Maddie was in the middle and Rachel was on the other side. All three were buckled in but the force of the collision was so great that each of the kids was knocked out of their seat belts.
Maddie was into t-ball, and had barely started kindergarten. Rachel was in 4th grade. So, it was really difficult at her school where kids struggle with the loss of a long-time friend. “She was the perfect student. A bright smile all the time,” said Julie Davidson, Rachel’s teacher.
And little cousin, Bailey, who's played with Rachel and Maddie all her life; she can tell you what happened but it makes her cry. "A lady had been drinking and driving and she ran a bunch of stop signs and ran into them," Bailey says.
Five months to the day after that accident, Eloisa Quintinilla pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and two counts of intoxicated assault. She received three life terms and is eligible for parole in 30 years. “We're Christians and we're working on trying to forgive her,” Dirk says.
Dirk and Tara are also trying to raise the flock of sheep they bought the day of the accident, now a living tribute to their children. “We started all this for our kids, but hopefully we can grow show sheep and other kids can benefit from it,” says Dirk.
But Tara says it's already hard to watch those other kids...get older. “It's hard to see kids growing up, their friends.” “The feelings and the emotion we have are unimaginable pain. Feelings we didn't know existed,” Dirk says.
Madelyn was the entertainer of the family. “She was beautiful. Red curly hair and a personality to go with it,” recalls Tara. In Maddy's room now, a favorite dress is a reminder of happier times.
Rachel was more serious and loved competing in stock shows. “She was always perfect looking and a good personality. But she was quieter,” remembers Dirk. A bright red clock in Rachel's room helps turn back time.
And for just one month, there was Yates, the little brother the girls always dreamed of. “They wanted to do everything they could to take care of him. Rachel was like Yate's other mommy,” Tara says. That is why only one casket was chosen for the three. “We decided we wanted them to be buried together. Because they were family and they needed to be together,” says Dirk.
It was while Dirk and Tara were hospitalized in Lubbock that the children were buried in Seminole. Today, they come to their grave often. To read notes left by other children, and to feel closer to the family they used to have. “Our son was born 36 days before this happened. Our life was perfect. Our family was complete. And we were really happy and one instant changed everything. Please don't drink and drive,” urges Dirk.
A billboard stands in Seminole at the intersection of the crash that killed the Lindsey children as a reminder of what happened. Now, the group Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.), is planning to use the Lindsey truck as part of a moving memorial that will travel across the South Plains to educate others first hand about the dangers of drinking and driving.
If you would like to make a donation to help M.A.D.D. build the memorial, contact Shannon Ramos(806) 793-6233 or mail a donation to:
Lubbock/ South Plains M.A.D.D. 916 Main Suite 431 Lubbock, Texas 79401