Hurricane Harvey strikes twice for West Orange family, flooding home then taking father, son

In the span of 72 hours the Sonnier family was hit by raging flood waters, an evacuation, and a fiery fatal crash that stole a father and son.

WEST ORANGE - A West Orange family was hit by tragedy twice in the wake of Hurricane Harvey after evacuating to Louisiana.

In the span of 72 hours the Sonnier family was hit by raging flood waters, an evacuation, and a fiery fatal crash that stole a father and son.

Corey Sonnier, 34, and his 12-year-old son, Tyrell, were killed on Saturday, September 2, in a head-on collision as they were returning home so that Sonnier could go back to work.

HELP | GoFundMe page for the Sonnier family

MORE | Corey Sonnier's obiturary

MORE | Tyrell Sonnier's obituary

The water started to creep through the crevices of the quaint West Orange home that Corey and Amanda Sonnier shared with their five children on August 31.

"There was about two to three feet of water in my house," Amanda Sonnier recalled.

The couple packed up their five kids, two dogs and a cat before making the nearly three hour drive to Lafayette. 

On the way there the tight-knit crew jammed to their favorite songs and told silly stories to soften the blow that mother nature had just dealt to their family home.

Sadly for the Sonniers tragedy was about to make an encore and even more heightened appearance.

"It's all just kind of a nightmare. That's the only way I know how to describe it," Sonnier told 12News.

Once the storm water started to recede Corey and his father-in-law had to head back to work in Port Arthur.

The couple's 12-year-old son, Tyrell, decided that he wanted to ride with dad to spend some time with his grandmother back home.

Following his normal routine, Corey gave Amanda a call when he hit the road.

"He told me they were on their way, that he would call me when they got there. Then it was... Okay, I love you. I'll talk to you later," Amanda Sonnier recalled.

But later never came and, instead, Amanda Sonnier's worst nightmare was about to become a reality.

"She just came banging on the door and said Corey and Tyrell were dead," Sonnier said of her mother.

Amanda's father was driving in front of Corey and witnessed the wreck in his rear-view mirror.

Sixteen years of marriage and a 12-year-old child had been snatched from her loving arms.

Cameron Parish officials say Corey Sonnier veered out of his lane to avoid hitting a turtle in the middle of the road.

That split-second decision sent him and his son flying head on into an oncoming truck on Highway 82 near Johnson Bayou.

The pair were killed on impact.
Plans for cleanup and contractors turned to final arrangements and funerals.

"There are a lot of feelings that I just don't understand," Sonnier said.

Sonnier says she's yet to process those feelings because the moment she lost her husband she became the sole pillar on which her remaining four sons lean.

Instead of grieving she sat in a hospital room while her youngest, Xavier, went in and out of shock from the news.

Xavier's big brothers told their mom that there's no need for her to worry because they've got each other's backs.

"Your brothers are a sacred bond. That's not just your friend, that's your bloodline. You've got to be there for your brother," said Zackery Covington, the eldest at 16.

Dad was brother number six, according to Zackery, because of how much time they all spent together.

"He taught us everything we know," said Cordell Sonnier, 14

Those lessons will carry the Sonnier brothers through the rest of their altered, but not detoured, lives because now they say everything they do is in honor of Corey and Tyrell.

Corey and Tyrell Sonnier will be laid to rest Saturday at the First Church of God in Port Arthur.

When asked what she would say to them if she could tears rolled down Amanda Sonnier's cheeks as she replied, "We're okay. We're going to be okay."

© 2017 KBMT-TV


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