“I remember thinking to myself, `You’re going to see some dead kids, get ready. I’ve got three of my own and it was going to be (an awful) start to the New Year.”

Willden, who jumped into the water with his father, said he tried unsuccessfully to open windows and doors. He then used his firearm just as he had done in training for his current job as a bodyguard and Department of Defense contractor.

One of the girls had found an air pocket and was breathing fine but was trapped in her seat belt. Willden cut it with a pocket knife and pulled her from the rear passenger window.

He said the other two children were lifeless, the boy upside down in his car seat and the second girl floating in the front passenger compartment. Both were pulled from the vehicle.