Rufus Harrison “nearly passed out” when he learned his grandson and great-granddaughter died Monday.
It was around 1 a.m. Tuesday when he received the call that Morance D. Harrison Sr. 35, and his daughter, Nena Harrison, 6, drowned, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. Police say Harrison Sr. crashed his red pickup truck into the pond at the Villages of Wildwood in Fairfield on Monday.
Harrison Sr.’s son, Morance Harrison Jr., survived the incident. At least one witness told police Harrison Sr. brought his son to the surface before returning to try to save his daughter.
“He was in my opinion a good guy, a young man who loved his kids very much,” Rufus Harrison said, “and he spent quality time with them.”
He said Nena Harrison “always wanted to be with” her father.
The crash occurred after reports that Harrison Sr. was seen “driving all over our grass,” according to one 911 caller who worked at the apartment complex. She told dispatchers at 6:18 p.m. Monday that a red pickup truck went over a concrete curb between the apartment complex’s dog park and fitness center before driving down a hill and “speeding” around the pond.
Fairfield police said officers responding to that 911 call were unable to locate the truck or Harrison Sr. at the complex before clearing the scene.
A child called 911 at 7:36 p.m. Monday and reported that he saw a red pickup truck sinking in the pond. The child told the dispatcher he saw Harrison Sr. bring his son to the surface and go back under to attempt to save his daughter.
FIRST REPORTS: Pickup crashes into apartment complex’s pond
Rufus Harrison said his grandson enjoyed taking his children to the park or a local school’s playground to play basketball. He said “it’s been devastating” since Monday’s night as they’re working on two funerals. Thompson, Hall & Jordan are handling the services. A date for the funeral has not yet been set.
Rufus Harrison said Harrison Jr. is doing well and is with his mother in Forest Park. He said his daughter, Harrison Sr.’s mother, died three years ago from complications from multiple sclerosis. The deaths of his grandson and great-granddaughter brought those memories back to the surface, he said.
“It just all kind of relived itself,” he said. “It has really been a traumatic experience.”
He said Harrison Jr. hasn’t talked about the accident. But Rufus Harrison said he asked his great-grandson Tuesday night if he knew where his dad and sister were, he responded: “They were in the water.”
“That just tore me up all over again,” Rufus Harrison said.
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