Father recalls devastating choice he was forced to make during Sri Lanka bombings

An American ex-pat and former Chase bank vice president has revealed the devastating moment he was forced to choose which of his two dying children to try and save during the Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday.

Matthew Linsey, 61, was vacationing with two of his children in Sri Lanka when a coordinated attack unfolded at churches and high-end hotels throughout the country, leaving more than 300 victims dead and hundreds more wounded.

Linsey and his family were enjoying the breakfast buffet at the Shangri-La hotel's Table One Restaurant in Colombo when one of the explosive devices detonated, leaving his daughter, 15-year-old Amelie, and his son, 19-year-old Daniel, critically injured, he told The Times U.K.

"You can’t describe how bad it was," he recalled. "People were screaming. I was with my children. I couldn’t tell whether they were all right, it was dark."

As the two teens lay unconscious amid the chaos and wreckage, Linsey, who was also wounded by shrapnel, was faced with an impossible decision — which of his children he should try to help first.

Thinking his daughter appeared to be in better condition, Linsey told The Times he grabbed his son and "tried to revive him."

“A lady said she'd take my daughter," he recalled. "I carried my son downstairs to an ambulance, we took him to the hospital. I yelled, ‘Please help my son! Please help! Please help!'"

Sadly, doctors were not able to revive Daniel, and Linsey later learned Amelie did not survive her injuries either. The brother and sister — both of whom were dual citizens of the U.S. and U.K. — were among four Americans killed during the attacks, along with 40-year-old Wisconsin native Dieter Kowalski and 11-year-old student Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa.

With the help of the U.S. Embassy, Linsey was able to travel back home to his wife, Angelina, and the pair's two other sons, David, 21, and Ethan, 12 in the U.K. The family says they are now faced with the difficult task of repatriating their loved ones' remains. 

Photos of the wreckage: 

33 PHOTOS
Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday
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Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday
WARNING: This gallery contains content viewers may find distressing.
ADDS DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS THE DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred people were killed and hundreds more hospitalized from injuries in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a security official told The Associated Press, in the biggest violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/ Rohan Karunarathne )
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan elderly woman is helped near St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds wounded in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
People gather outside St. Anthony's Shrine where a blast happened, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of people killed in Church blasts mourn as they wait outside mortuary of a hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives gather outside a hospital following blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred people were killed and hundreds more hospitalized from injuries in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a security official told The Associated Press, in the biggest violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A relative of a blast victim grieves outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A Sri Lankan police commando enters a house suspected to be a hideout of militants following a shoot out in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankan security forces officers secure a site believed to be a hide out of the militants following a shoot out in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankan army soldiers secure the area around St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Relatives of a blast victim weep outside a police morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than two hundred people were killed and hundreds more injured in eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, a view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities blame seven suicide bombers of a domestic militant group for coordinated Easter bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels which killed and injured hundreds of people. It was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, file)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, photo, Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities blame seven suicide bombers of a domestic militant group for coordinated Easter bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels which killed and injured hundreds of people. It was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, file)
Relatives cry near the coffin with the remains of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, after it returned home, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Relatives weep near the coffin with the remains of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A relative holds an old portrait of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, after the coffin returned home, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
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