LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Local organizations and leaders joined people around the city in mourning the loss of four Louisville residents who were killed in a car accident Friday morning in Missouri.
Carrie McCaw, 44; Lesley Prather, 40; Kacey McCaw, 12 and Rhyan Prather, 12, were traveling in a minivan on Interstate 64 outside St. Louis when a white pickup truck towing a generator lost control and crashed through the median cable barrier before slamming into their vehicle, Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Dallas Thompson said. The minivan then hit an SUV.
McCaw and Prather were both pronounced dead at the scene, while their daughters later died at a hospital, officials said. The four were on their way to a volleyball tournament in Kansas City.
The volleyball tournament went on as scheduled Saturday but only after plenty of prayers and a moment of silence. Nevertheless, Ron Kordes, the President and Director of KIVA — the Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Association — said his mind was focused on returning to Louisville, where a community now mourns the sudden loss.
"You know, it's one of those things you try to carry on and all of a sudden, you try to get distracted and forget about it, but it come right back at you constantly," Kordes said.
Kordes knew all four victims. McCaw grew up with his daughter. He described the 44-year-old mother as an energetic and positive person who was dedicated to family, church and volleyball.
"Carrie was in my house, growing up, all the time," Kordes said. "You know, it's just, you know, like another daughter, and it's just so painful."
Kordes also knew Prather, who also had deep connections to Louisville's volleyball community.
"Every time Lesley would be in our facility — volleyball facility, you know — there was always a smile and would always come up and give you a hug," Kordes remembered.
Prather began working at the Louisville Division of Fire in October 2016 and spent her entire career serving Louisville's west end with Engine Company 22. Her brother-in-law, Sash Petkovic, is also a firefighter with the department, which mourned "the tragic deaths" in a Facebook post.
"This is a terribly sad time for the Louisville Division of Fire and the entire community," the post says. "Please keep these families and all whose lives have been touched by these four beautiful souls in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. The Division expresses our deepest condolences to the Prather and McCaw families and friends. We are heartbroken."
"My heart is breaking at the loss of four Louisvillians, including a Louisville firefighter, killed in a tragic accident today in Missouri," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a tweet Friday. "I ask that you join me in keeping their families, friends and co-workers in your hearts and prayers."
My heart is breaking at the loss of four Louisvillians, including a Louisville firefighter, killed in a tragic accident today in Missouri. I ask that you join me in keeping their families, friends and co-workers in your hearts and prayers.— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) February 15, 2020
"Such a tragedy! Four innocent lives taken!" Assistant Fire Chief David Howser added on Twitter.
Louisville Metro Council President David James said Saturday that the entire city is mourning the loss of Prather, McCaw and their daughters.
"On behalf of the Metro Council, I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to her family and the family of Carrie McCaw," James said in a statement. "May we all seek comfort in knowing Lesley was a special person and be grateful she was a part of so many lives and service to our community."
Nancy Worley, the Associate Director of Sports Information at the University of Louisville, grew up with Prather.
"She was extremely fierce, but super funny," Worley said while holding back tears. "And a huge competitor, but she was also the sweetest thing in the world when it came to her kids or her family. She was just an extremely rare combination of beauty and grace and strength."
Worley said the Louisville community is ready to serve as a safety net for both families. She said her boss, Athletic Director Vince Tyra, is already planning a fundraiser to help both the McCaws and Prathers.
In a tweet Saturday, Tyra sent his prayers to all involved.
"We are (heartbroken) for those lost in a auto accident traveling to a volleyball tourney," Tyra wrote. "It directly impacted the KIVA and UofL volleyball families. Sarah Petkovic, our Dir of Ops for (Louisville volleyball), lost her sister and former Card, Lesley Prather, and her niece, Rhyan. (Prayers) to all involved."
We are💔for those lost in a auto accident traveling to a volleyball tourney. It directly impacted the KIVA and UofL volleyball families. Sarah Petkovic, our Dir of Ops for @UofLVolleyball, lost her sister and former Card, Lesley Prather, and her niece, Rhyan. 🙏 to all involved.— Vince Tyra (@vincetyra) February 15, 2020
Both Prather and McCaw coached a 10-year old volleyball team at KIVA. Sixth-grader Kacey McCaw and 7th-grader Rhyan Prather played for one of KIVA's national volleyball teams, according to KIVA's website. On Saturday, Kordes described both girls as "wonderful young daughters" who were following in their mothers' footsteps.
"Our KIVA family will never be the same and we send prayers and love to all of the families touched by this tragedy," the association said in a Facebook post Friday.
Our hearts are heavy with the loss of four beautiful souls in Carrie and Kacey McCaw and Lesley and Rhyan Prather. Our KIVA family will never be the same and we send prayers and love to all of the families touched by this tragedy.— KIVA (@KIVAVB) February 15, 2020
"Their beauty, energy, strength, and courage was admired by all," the association added in another tribute post Saturday. "Today, tomorrow, and forever the KIVA family comes together to love, honor, and compete in their name. Fly high beautiful girls."
Prather and her younger sister, Sara, were both volleyball standouts at Pleasure Ridge Park High School and the University of Louisville, where Prather played from 1998 to 2001.
"We are heartbroken to hear of the passing of Cardinal Forever Lesley Drury Prather (98-01) and her daughter, Rhyan," Louisville Volleyball said in a tweet.
We are heartbroken to hear of the passing of Cardinal Forever Lesley Drury Prather (98-01) and her daughter, Rhyan.Our thoughts are with all of those affected by the fatal crash. pic.twitter.com/p6zkrzs79m— Louisville Volleyball (@UofLVolleyball) February 15, 2020
Prather also coached volleyball at Indiana University Southeast from 2009 to 2012.
"Lesley was a passionate coach, wonderful leader and an amazing mother," said Joe Glover, IU Southeast's athletic director, in a news release. "She inspired so many student-athletes during her time at IU Southeast."
The Syracuse Athletics family is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of volleyball alumnae Carrie Urton McCaw ’98, and her daughter, Kacey. Our thoughts are with their families and those affected by the fatal crash during this incredibly difficult time.https://t.co/1FxPBbEVGD pic.twitter.com/2hgi1i7cUU— Syracuse Volleyball (@CuseVB) February 15, 2020
Keri Potts, a senior director of communications at ESPN who played volleyball with McCaw at Syracuse from 1995-98, called her teammate "the best college setter a gal could ask for, and the brightest smile in any room."
"My dear friend, I love you. I will miss you," Potts tweeted Saturday. "I’ll see you again some day."
Carrie Urton McCaw, the best college setter a gal could ask for, and the brightest smile in any room. My dear friend, I love you. I will miss you. I’ll see you again some day. @CuseVB @sedson24 https://t.co/6zPzADd1kd— Keri Potts (@MsPotts_ATL) February 15, 2020
"I ask that you keep the entire McCaw and Urton families in your prayers, especially for Carrie’s husband Dave, and their children: Brady, TY, and Jessie (twin sister to Kacey)," Rev. Fr. Shayne R. Duvall wrote. "This is a tragic and painful loss to our parish family."
Digital Producer Brooks Holton and Associate Producer Amanda Manning contributed to this report.
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