'Horrific tragedy': Teen dies trying to save brothers from sinking SUV

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MIDDLETON, Del. (KKTV) - An 18-year-old boy died a hero trying to save his brothers and cousin from a sinking vehicle.

Crews search the Chesapeake and Delaware canal for the SUV, which plunged into the water after the driver lost control. The driver, Willis Lindsey, escaped the vehicle but went back for the other passengers. Oct. 6, 2019. (Photo: CBS Philadelphia)

Willis Lindsey, his girlfriend, his cousin, and his two brothers were on the way to a youth football game Sunday when the vehicle plunged into the Chesapeake and Delaware canal. Willis, who was driving, managed to free himself from the vehicle but went back multiple times to get the others out.

Delaware State Police says Willis was able to pull his 16-year-old girlfriend to shore but drowned after diving back into the water to rescue the other passengers.

"He was a hero and tried to do everything he could to help the remaining passengers in that vehicle,” Delaware State Police Master Cpl. Michael Austin told CBS Philadelphia.

Police recovered Willis' body in the water. The bodies of his 12-year-old cousin and 16-year-old brother were located hours later after the SUV was removed from the canal.

Willis' 6-year-old brother was not in the vehicle and has not been located as of Monday morning. He is presumed dead.

The crash remains under investigation, but family told CBS Philadelphia they believe the boys got lost and were trying to turn around when the SUV went off road.

“He loved his family, like, unbelievable. I can really see him rather stay down there with them than come up without them," said Larry Simpson, who coached Willis and his brothers in youth football.

"I really believe that. That was Willis."