Father Had to Make Heartbreaking Choice on Which Child to Save After Sri Lanka Bombings

By Zachary Stieber

A father said that he had to make a heartwrenching choice on which of his children he’d try to take to the hospital after the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter.

Matthew Linsey, 60, a British man who used to work in New York City, was having breakfast with his children at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo when suicide bombers set off explosions in and around the city.

His kids, Amelie, 15, and Daniel, 19, were both severely injured by the blast in the hotel’s restaurant.

“You can’t describe how bad it was. People were screaming. I was with my children. I couldn’t tell whether they were alright, it was dark. I was worried there would be another blast. We ran out—another blast,” he told The Times of London.

When he reached the elevators with his children he saw that they were both unconscious. That’s when the terrible choice arose: should he try to save his son or his daughter?

Damage is seen at Shangri-La hotel after explosions hit churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019. (@BHANOOB/Still image via Reuters)

Linsey said that he believed his daughter was in better condition than his son, so he picked up Daniel and took him to a hospital. Doctors there tried a heart massage but the teen ultimately died.

Linsey later learned that his daughter also died.

“My son looked worse than my daughter. I tried to revive him. A lady said she’d take my daughter. I carried my son downstairs to an ambulance, we took him to the hospital. I yelled, ‘Please help my son, please help, please help.’ I thought my daughter was better off. I couldn’t find her because I was with my son. They sadly passed away,” Linsey said.

Posted by Daniel Linsey on Thursday, October 18, 2018

Posted by Amelie Linsey on Thursday, June 18, 2015

Daniel was a student at Westminster Kingsway College who enjoyed volunteering and had recently traveled to Ethiopia to work in an orphanage.

In a statement, the college said: “Everyone at Westminster Kingsway College was shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of one of our students, Daniel Linsey, in the Sri Lanka bombings on Sunday. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this terrible time, and we are offering counseling and support to those students and staff who knew him.”

Amelie was a student at the Godolphin and Latymer School in London who liked to travel.

Linsey and his wife, Angelina, who are both dual citizens of the United Kingdom and the United States, have two other children, David, 21, and Ethan, 12, who remained in the UK.

Sri Lankan security personnel stand guard at the cordoned off entrance to the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images)

David Linsey told the Daily Mail that his father and siblings were on the last day of their vacation.

“They were due to fly home that day and had been having breakfast when the first bomb went off,” he said.

“My dad said they were all caught up in a second explosion as they tried to escape. Both my brother and sister were instantly unconscious and were taken to hospital but they never woke up. My dad is shocked and has not said much apart from that. He is trying to be strong for my little brother who is 12 and my mum.”

He said that Amelie had no visible injuries. “She must have had internal injuries,” he said.

“I think they both died instantly as they never woke up. We cannot believe this has happened. I can’t describe just how devastating it is. You don’t think it will happen to you. We miss them so much already.”