Mother of survivor in Burlington boat crash says the kids in the crash ”were all like family”

El Taco Casa will be closed for a good part of the day Friday. 20-year old Caitlyn Atchley worked at the Burlington, Iowa restaurant.  She died, along with three of her friends, in a near head -on boat crash Saturday in the Mississippi River.

”The staff and I are going to the funeral”, said owner Gary DeJaynes. ”People keep coming in saying, we understand this girl worked for you, and you, you just lose it.”

All four of the young victims will be buried Friday. Caitlin, her boyfriend Blake Eakins, 21, Jacob Boyd, 22, and Matthew House, 21.

The crash is still under investigation. Authorities say the two small boats were shuttling the young people back and forth from a party when they collided in the dark. One of the boats had 11 people onboard.  It’s unclear if the boats had lights.

On Tuesday, the mother of one of the 8 survivors said she’s grateful her daughter survived, but is mourning the loss of the victims, because the ”kids were all like family”.

Kim Coleman is at the hospital bedside of her daughter Jennifer Parcel, who suffered a broken leg in the accident.

”It was a freak accident. They came around a curve and didn’t see each other”, said Coleman.

She said three of the young men in the boats helped rescue her daughter, injured themselves.

”I am grateful for those three boys who saved her life. And one of them saved her with a broken pelvis, and then he (Jed Thomas) went back in the water to save other people”.

Grateful her daughter and the others survived, but feeling pain for the other parents who are not so lucky.

”I am grateful my daughter’s going to be out of the hospital, but it’s hard to be happy when you are sad”.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Des Moines County Sheriffs Department are still looking into the facts of the crash. Blood samples from the drivers of the two boats were taken.

Results could take several weeks. No charges have been filed.

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