POLLOCK, Texas (KETK)
For the first time, an East Texas family is sharing their story of turning pain into passion. When violent storms struck two months ago, 8 year old Dilynn and 3 1/2 year old Jace Creel were killed when a tree fell onto the car they were in. Now, their parents have made it their mission to protect other families.
It is a parents worst nightmare to lose a child, but for Brittney and Edward Creel, they lost two. Now, they want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. They explain how, in an exclusive interview with KETK News.
When the storms came, the Creel family headed home to find shelter with two young boys sitting in the back seat.
“Jace, I mean he could just smile and brighten up everybody’s day he was so sweet, and so just goofy. You couldn’t be sad around him, you couldn’t have a bad day because he just wouldn’t let you,” describes Brittney Creal, the boys’ mother.
Sitting next to Jace, was his brother Dilynn, “he was such a great kid, and I look up to him, I want to be like my 8-year old son and have the heart that he had and love for God that he had, I mean he was just like no other, continued Brittney.
Now, these are memories after the unthinkable happened.
“I turned and looked and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tree falling,” Brittney is describing the day her sons were killed, while sitting next to her husband, Edward.
“I was backing up telling the boys it was going to be alright, turned around looking at them, and then I wake up in my wife’s lap, and there’s a tree in the back of the car,” continues Edward, ” “It happened in a matter of seconds.”
“And I knew, I knew instantly there was no, there was no doubt in my mind,” as Brittney thought back to that terrible moment.
“He said call 9-1-1,” remembers Brittney, “All I saw when I got out and turned around was my 3-year old’s little leg. I could see his leg and his shoe. There was nothing we could do, it was over.”
“We always said when we go by, that one day they’re going to kill somebody, we didn’t know it was going to our kids,” says Edward as he describes the tree that fell on top of his car.
The trees that line Dewitt Henson Road in Angelina County, near Pollock, have always been a concern for the Creels.
“Everything you know is gone, it’s over in the blink of an eye, and there is no one who should ever suffer this,” says Edward as he fights back tears.
After the storm cleared, their boys were gone, but the deadly trees still stood.
THE DILYNN AND JACE SAFE TREE ACT
“When they removed the trees that were down, they left a few rotten trees still standing in the same spot, that’s partly why we’re starting this proposal,” explains Edward.
The Dilynn and Jace Creel Safe Tree Act asks lawmakers to make a change. Stating the hollow, rotten trees jeopardize public safety.
“If we could get a face to face with Governor Abbott. Governor Abbott also went through something like this and is paralyzed from the waist down because of a fallen tree,” says Boyd Swearingen, the boys’ grandfather.
In a video, Governor Abbott explains how during a routine jog, when suddenly he heard a boom, and a tree collapsed on top of him. The reason why he is in a wheelchair.
“We would like to see a law enacted that would remove these compromised trees from county roads even farm market roads or any road that poses a risk to passer by-ers,” explains Boyd.
Driving down the road, you can still see trees, empty, leaning, and dangerous.
“With high winds pushing them over, like the one that took our children, it snapped right at the base of the tree. It didn’t pull the root or anything, it just snapped,” describes Edward.
This is a cause from the heart, for the family.
“It’s not just something we want to do, it’s something we have to do. It’s something that we have to do to keep going together,” says Edward.
As a family, each one is fighting to save lives.
“You never think that it’s going to happen to one of your own but it does. Everybody that it’s ever happened to, that’s their family member. It can happen and it does happen and it’s avoidable,” says Myra Swearingen, the boys’ grandmother.
The Creels say they will continue to do whatever they can, to make sure nobody else feels their pain.
“Our life is forever changed, and we just count on God to guide us and tell us what he wants us to do next, cause we don’t know,” says Brittney.
IN MEMORY OF THEIR BOYS
Their faith and the memory of Dilynn and Jace carry them from one day to the next.
“Dilynn’s faith was strong. I wish to one day be as good as a Christian as he is, that he was. His faith was stronger than anyone I’ve ever met,” describes Edward.
Fun moments with the boys, is why this family doesn’t want anyone to struggle like they have.
“I want to do something in the name of our boys to help other people and save them from having to go through what we’re going through,” says Brittney, and her husband Edward agrees, “it doesn’t really stick out in their minds until something like this happens, and once it does, you start noticing it everywhere and we feel this is something that needs to done to make sure everybody can travel safe in Texas.”
Traveling through the state, the Creel family wants to make a difference one tree at a time, in memory of Dilynn and Jace.
If you would like to help with the Creel’s cause, they say the first step is signing a petition they created. You can sign up using the link below.