Heartbreaking Story Behind Dad Who Added Daughter's Necklace to Headstone After His 3 Kids Were Killed (Exclusive)

Ray Simmons dedicates himself to maintaining the resting place of his son Christopher, 16, and daughters Kamryn, 15, and Lindy, 20

<p>Katie DeRouen</p> Ray Simmons personalizing his late daughter Lindy

Katie DeRouen

Ray Simmons personalizing his late daughter Lindy's headstone
  • In December 2021, Dawn and Ray Simmons lost three of their children — Kamryn, 15, Christopher, 16, and Lindy, 20 — in a car crash caused by a drunk, wrong-way driver in Louisiana

  • Since the fatal accident, Dawn and her daughter Katie DeRouen have shared videos about grief on TikTok

  • Viewers were moved by Ray's dedication to maintaining his late kids' gravesite, including how he glued a stone onto their headstone to replicate his daughter's signature necklace

Though they share the same heartbreak, Dawn and Ray Simmons have their own individual ways of grieving a devastating family loss.

On Dec. 17, 2021, their children Kamryn, 15, Christopher, 16, and Lindy Simmons, 20, were killed in a head-on car collision caused by an intoxicated driver. Dawn and Christopher’s girlfriend were also in the struck vehicle, but Dawn was the sole survivor of the accident.

Since the Simmons' deaths, Dawn and her 34-year-old daughter, Katie DeRouen, have used social media to mourn and memorialize their children and siblings. Most of their TikToks show old videos of Kamryn, Christopher and Lindy, or more recent footage of Dawn and DeRouen working on Simmons3, their non-profit organization that educates people about the dangers of impaired driving.

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When one comment asked why Ray is rarely featured in the Louisiana-based family's online content, DeRouen responded with a compilation of clips demonstrating the ways he copes from day to day.

“He grieves very differently than Mom & I. He has trouble getting out of bed and continuing on with life. All of [our] lives were flipped upside down from this tragedy,” DeRouen wrote in the caption of her TikTok, which has over 2.5 million likes on the app.

The video began by explaining that Ray stayed with his wife the entire time she was in the hospital recovering from the injuries she sustained in the car accident. A following scene saw him fixing a bright ruby gem onto Lindy’s etched portrait on their shared headstone.

<p>Katie DeRouen</p> Kamryn, Christopher and Lindy Simmons

Katie DeRouen

Kamryn, Christopher and Lindy Simmons

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“He made sure Lindy’s Kendra Scott necklace was perfectly in place & secured,” DeRouen explained in overlaying text.

Many of the video's 26.6 million videos pointed to the necklace as an especially poignant symbol of Ray’s grief.

DeRouen tells PEOPLE that the Kendra Scott piece was a signature part of Lindy’s style. It was included in her original etching on the headstone, which was designed by one of DeRouen’s other sisters.

<p>Katie DeRouen</p> Dawn and Ray Simmons

Katie DeRouen

Dawn and Ray Simmons

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Then the jewelry brand sent the Simmons family the exact red stone from their collection, and Ray was able to glue it onto the grave by Lindy’s birthday the following year.

“He came with airplane glue and all this stuff. [He] has it on there perfect and has it coated,” DeRouen says. “That's how he shows his love.”

The TikTok detailing Ray’s grieving process also included videos Lindy took when she was alive, all of which spoke to her trusting bond with her dad.

One recording showed him draping a quilt over Lindy, who captioned the video, “I [was] laying here without a blanket and I knew my dad was gonna come bring me one and cover me.”

<p>Katie DeRouen</p> Dawn Simmons and her late kids Christopher, Kamryn and Lindy

Katie DeRouen

Dawn Simmons and her late kids Christopher, Kamryn and Lindy

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In a second clip, the dedicated dad could be seen inspecting the front of a car. “One thing about Ray is he’s not gonna let us leave until our car is 10000000%,” Lindy wrote.

“My dad, he's different. I'm not super close with him, but I know without a doubt, if I have a flat tire … I can call him for that,” DeRouen tells PEOPLE. “I recognize, just like Lindy did, that's his love language.”

In addition to his generally distinctive “love language,” Dawn adds that his way of mourning their kids has greatly differed from her own. While she’s benefited from getting out of the house and attending support groups, her husband leans into his “homebody” nature.

<p>Katie DeRouen</p> Dawn and Ray Simmons with their daughter Lindy

Katie DeRouen

Dawn and Ray Simmons with their daughter Lindy

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“He has this little workroom in our home, and he likes to go to little garage sales and flea markets. He likes to find things that are broken,” Dawn says. “And he brings them home and he fixes them. He can look at something and just see how it works and fix it.”

Dawn tells PEOPLE that his “mind of an engineer” makes it even harder for Ray to handle the absence of Kamryn, Christopher and Lindy.

“He tells me all the time, he says, ‘I can't fix this.’ So I think he has a lot of struggle with that aspect, and I just think it's just going to take some more time,” says Dawn.

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