Days after his only two sons were killed in a car crash in Carson, Los Angeles Police Department Officer Kenneth Baxter on Friday remembered his adult children as "good guys" and said he was "heartbroken" over their deaths.
Baxter, a 30-year LAPD veteran, was heading home Sunday morning after working an overnight shift at the department's Pacific Division when he received the devastating news that his sons were involved in a car crash and had died.
“My world, and my family’s world – mom and everybody’s world – has been rocked upside-down," Baxter told KTLA Friday. "It hurts because we had two great kids.”
The two-vehicle collision that took the lives of 26-year-old Christopher Baxter and 23-year-old Jonathan Baxter occurred about 2:20 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Del Amo and Avalon boulevards.
They were heading back home from basketball practice at the time, and had just dropped off some friends. The brothers may have been stopping to grab pizza when the deadly crash occurred, Baxter said.
The other driver, who authorities have not yet identified, also died.
Although he didn't have many details about the collision, Baxter said that the other car may have been speeding. The cause remains under investigation.
“I’m heartbroken. I’m heartbroken. And they were such good guys. Our family is broken. Our community is broken," said Baxter as he visibly held back tears, his voice choked with emotion while speaking of his deceased sons. “As a law enforcement officer, I’ve had to give death notifications on many occasions, and my heart goes out to families. But nothing – never would I think it would come to my door like this, and to such good guys.”
The Baxter brothers excelled at Verbum Dei High School in Watts, where they were also standout athletes and beloved members of the community, according to Baxter.
They each went on to college and had dreams of playing in the NBA, he said. Both had played in the summer professional leagues every summer since the age of 18.
Christopher and Jonathan Baxter also remained very involved and active on the Verbum Dei campus, even after graduating from the school in 2010 and 2012 respectively. A memorial service for the two men has been planned there for Saturday night.
“A lot, we focus on the bad kids; these kids were loved,” Baxter said, noting that he had received calls from many of the men’s former teachers and other members of the community who knew them.
He described his sons as "special young men" who had touched many people and were a "light to the world."
Cameron Nash, a family friend, told KTLA the young men were best friends and inseparable; it was rare, he said, to see one brother without the other.
“The community lost a pair of great guys," Nash said.
Baxter told KTLA the loss had been painful for the family.
“We’re people of faith, and we know we’re going to see them again,” he said. “And yet, it doesn’t lessen the pain. It doesn’t lessen the pain at all.”
He continued: "I would give anything to have them back. Anything to have those young men back."
Baxter teared up as he discussed the many things he had been looking forward to in his sons' lives, particularly as he neared retirement.
“I was looking forward, really, in the near future, to spending time in retirement meeting my grandkids, meeting … meeting the daughters we’ll never have,” he said.
Baxter also thanked everyone for the outpouring of support, which he said has been widespread.