LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Sunday, Feb. 14, marks one year since a crash in St. Louis killed two Louisville mothers and their daughters.
Lesley and Rhyan Prather and Carrie and Kacey McCaw were traveling to Kansas City to attend the KIVA Volleyball Tournament in Kansas City when a driver crossed over the center median and struck them head-on.
For the past year, the four’s family members and friends have been thinking of ways to turn tragedy into something positive by helping others.
“You don’t have to know them personally to be touched, saddened and heart-wrenched by this story,” Anne Kordes told WAVE 3 News.
Kordes knew all four of them well through KIVA Volleyball and grew up with Carrie McCaw.
“They did nothing wrong; they were literally driving, and it gives me solace to know there was nothing they could do,” Kordes said. “We’ve heard from so many people at the scene, investigators, that have said there’s nothing they could do. They didn’t see it coming and they weren’t in pain. All the things that certainly, in a tragedy like this, you would want to know or would hope to hope would be the case.”
Both mothers of four children, Kordes said they left a great legacy of motherhood, friendship, and athleticism behind.
“For me, the way that I constantly frame this in my brain is, ‘Oh my God, these poor kids have now been without their moms for a year,” she said. “If there’s anyone to pray for or feel for, or brighten a day, it’s those 6 kids [left behind].”
Her friendship with Carrie McCaw began in the first grade, when they both played sports together. They remained friends until McCaw’s death.
”Carrie never missed your birthday, never missed a big event, never had a problem picking up the phone and going, ‘I haven’t talked to you in a while, just wanted to check how you’re doing,’” Kordes recalled. “There’s a pretty big cadre of people out there missing Carrie on a daily basis. I think I can speak for all of them when I say it seems so unfair because she was such light.”
She said Rhyan and Kacey were leaders, even though they were only 12.
“Super outgoing, and confident, and fun. They were doing TikToks all the way up until the point where the crash happened,” Kordes said.
Family and friends of McCaw set up a scholarship fund in memory of Carrie and Kacey McCaw for a St. Rafael graduate heading to Assumption.
“I know it was her dream for her daughters to go there,” Kordes said, adding that Carrie loved her experience at both schools.
Lesley Prather was a firefighter on Truck4/Engine 22 in west Louisville.
“She had spirit all throughout here, competitive all throughout her and care all throughout her,” Louisville Fire’s Captain Clarence Gamble said.
He first met Prather at the training academy. They ended up working at the same station together later.
“Sometimes talking about her is hard,” Gamble said. “We loved her to death. She’s family. Her family is our family.”
Around the fire station, it’s obvious Prather made an impact. Her old room has pictures of her, her crew, and her family still on the desk. Gamble said the crew used to bring in fresh flowers weekly. They recently switched to artificial flowers so the memorial can stay up for as long as they would like.
There is also a wooden memorial hung up inside the fire station with Prather’s photo. Gamble said a fellow firefighter made it for the family, but because it was too heavy, the family told them to leave it at the station as a memorial.
“[It’s been] rough, ‘cause like I said, we’re here 24 hours. We pass by her room; we pass by her locker. There’s things like the memorial we have set up here,” Gamble said. “You cannot go a day and not see her somewhere.”
Gamble said while most firefighters are known by their last names, for Prather it was different. She was known by the crew as “Momma.”
“She was the youngest as far as the department goes, but she took care of the guys. When it came down to, she was like, ‘OK, everybody, get together.’ She was mom. She just had care for everything,” Gamble said. “Losing anybody is bad. Losing Lesley was really tough because there wasn’t an ounce in her body that didn’t have care all over it. So, it hurt.”
Family and friends of Prather started the Lesley and Rhyan Prather Foundation in their memory. Gamble is on the board of the foundation.
“It’s overwhelming how much support and giving has come out of it,” Gamble said.
A year after the crash, KIVA Volleyball is heading back to St. Louis for a volleyball tournament.
Kordes said Carrie’s birthday would have been on Saturday, Feb. 13.
“The 13th, you’ve got to celebrate her! She would have been 45. It was a big one,” Kordes said. “My plan is to somehow figure out a way to find a Dr. Pepper or something that reminds me of her and celebrate her.”
On Friday, the KIVA team will meet for a prayer vigil when they arrive in St. Louis for their tournament. They will stream it on Zoom for those who couldn’t be there to see.
For more information on the Zoom prayer meeting, click here.
“It’ll be a weekend filled with remembering them,” Kordes said, “because that’s where we are. We’re coming up on the weekend the exact same place we were, doing the exact same things.”
For more information about the scholarship in memory of Carrie and Kacey McCaw, click here.
For more information about the foundation in memory of Lesley and Rhyan Prather, click here.