HIGHLAND, IL (KPLR) – Seven children lost their parents Thursday in what appears to have been a murder-suicide. Their father, Justin Campbell, was shot and killed in their Glen Carbon residence. The home was later set ablaze with the children still inside. All managed to escape the home.
The youngest of the children, a three-month-old boy, survived different ordeal. He was in the SUV when his mother, Cristy Campbell, crashed the vehicle into Silver Lake in Highland. Campbell drowned, but the infant was pulled to safety by two paramedics.
The Highland Fire Chief said after giving the first responders time to decompress and recover from the circumstances of Thursday’s tragic events, the first responders wanted to express their sympathies for the children and other family members involved.
The fire broke out early Thursday morning on Dogwood Lane in Glen Carbon. Firefighters discovered the body of 37-year-old Justin Campbell inside the home. He’d been shot in the head. When the fire broke out, his children ran to a nearby Walmart for help.
Meanwhile, Cristy Campbell drove away from the scene in an SUV with her three-month-old son.
Two Highland paramedics, 31-year-old Todd Zobrist and 35-year-old Ty Barr, rescued the baby. As the community calls them heroes, both said they were saddened after learning Cristy Campbell's body was later discovered in the lake.
“Who was going to go? … I said, ‘I go,’ I took my shirt and sweat shirt off, boots and socks, and jumped in. I made the determination,” Zobrist said. “I swam about 75 feet and got on top of the roof of the vehicle and saw the driver’s side window was not intact.”
Zobrist found the baby floating in the SUV with about six to eight inches of airspace.
“What I saw in front of me was two feet and two hands. (I) thought it was a doll or a toy. I reached back as far as I could and it was a person,” Zobrist said.
The baby was lifeless when Zobrist pulled him from the SUV. The paramedic placed the baby on the roof of the SUV and began to administer CPR. Zobrist said the baby began spitting up water after a few breaths.
After a few breaths started spitting up some water and rolled on side and gave more breaths
“Once he came out with a baby, my concern came to that baby,” said Ty Barr. “I saw Todd doing chest compressions and I knew Todd started to struggle. The distance; the swim.”
Zobrist decided he could do more for the child on land, so he got into the water and swam to the shore on his back, all while holding the baby above his head.