ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) – The parents who lost their children in a deadly crash on Monday are trying to hold on to the good memories.
The crash happened near St. Cloud when their car went off County Road 75 and landed upside down in the Sauk River.
Lam Le, who was driving, Carrie Ann Richter Ngo and her little brother, Ethan, had been at a family party on Sunday at Lake George in St. Cloud. Le’s car landed on its roof in the river and was filling with water when a Stearns County deputy noticed it.
Rescue workers were able to get two men out of the crash alive. One of them was the father of the children who died.
The lake was a place the Ngo family went for entertainment. But on Wednesday, they were there to reflect on the tragedy that took place in the Sauk River and remember the good times they shared.
“This didn’t have to happen. No one had to die,” Sarah Ngo said.
Sarah and Vin Ngo have gone through every emotion possible, and on Wednesday they went to the place where they found peace and joy in watching 5-year-old Ethan Ngo and 13-year-old Carrie Ann Richter Ngo.
“She was a very happy person. On her Facebook page, everyone was posting that,” Sarah said. “Stuff like ‘Thanks for sharing your smile every day.'”
Her parents said Carrie was a violinist and an athlete. She loved life.
“He was a daddy’s boy, and Dad is king to him,” Vin said.
Ethan loved to make noise, and he loved his sister and mom, while dad was his hero. Both Ethan and Carrie died when the car they were in plunged into the Sauk River, ending upside down. The driver, 19-year-old Lam Le, also died.
“The guy was in the back seat with us trying to light his phone up and somehow the light went dark again,” Vin said. “When I saw the light, I thought there was some hope there to bring me and my boy back safe.”
Vin tried for an hour to find a safe way out of the car. He and fellow survivor Lao Truang took turns holding Ethan up in an air pocket so he could breathe.
“The whole time he was screaming for daddy, daddy, I don’t want to die,” Vin said. “I told him it was okay and I was going to try to get us out.”
Vin woke up at the hospital to learn that his children were gone. Sarah said she is looking to God for help.
“God was calling him home and they’re safe with God and they’ll always be there to surround me every time I need them, and that’s what’s helping me get through this right now,” Sarah said.
The accident is still under investigation, but police do believe alcohol was involved. Ethan turned 5 years old last month, and Carrie would have been 14 on Sunday. They will return to the Sauk River this weekend to release balloons in memory of their children.