After devastating loss, Geneseo family hopes to celebrate son’s life


It’s been one week since tragedy rocked the small town of Geneseo, and Alex Joseph received that unimaginable phone call.

On February 28, his wife and son were pulled under their own runaway vehicle during preschool pick-up. 

“Seeing your son in that condition, seeing paramedics work with him and help him…trying to balance his needs, which you feel helpless…trying to help my wife…you don’t really have time to think, you just do,” said Alex. The couple also has a 5-year-old son, Hudson.

Kelly Joseph, 33, sustained serious injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.

3-year-old Carter was airlifted to a hospital in Peoria where he was taken off life support early Saturday morning.

In an exclusive interview with Local 4 News, Alex says his son was full of life and a love for arts and crafts.

“One of the times that he was most at peace and doing his best was when he was making art,” said Alex. 

He says his son was always having the most fun when making a mess while creating his latest masterpiece. 

“We still have on our carpets, on our walls, on our floors…there is glitter, and glue, and paint and marker everywhere,” said Alex.

As the Joseph family tries to make sense of their unimaginable loss, they say they’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from their community.

“We are blown away,” Alex said.

He says his family only moved to Geneseo about four months ago, but after seeing the community rally around them, they feel like they’ve lived there for years.

“It’s very possible that we came to Geneseo to survive something like this,” he said. “I can’t imagine a community, a place, supporting us any better.”

Now they’re hoping the Geneseo community can help carry on Carter’s legacy.

He says the family has been flooded with donations.

“We felt strange taking people’s money, we still do…so we want to do something bigger than us, bigger than Carter even,” he said.

They’ve started the Live Outside the Lines fund, hoping to put the donations they’ve received toward children’s art.

“To see people behave in this way, to act in this way, and hopefully maybe to embody that in the arts… I mean I think we would love to see something beautiful come out of this and I think it would give us great joy and some relief to see something so bad, so, so bad, turn into something beautiful,” he said.

Alex says all of the money they raise through donations will go toward the fund. They hope to use that money toward supporting future workshops and events, and eventually they’d like to open a children’s art studio in Geneseo.

“We’re going to celebrate art here in Geneseo for kids,” said Alex. “And we’re going to  try to create a space where they can go outside the line, they can paint, make messes…everything Carter loved to do.”

And rather than mourn the loss with a funeral, they’re planning to celebrate Carter’s life this Saturday.

“I can’t imagine an event he would’ve hated more than a funeral,” said Alex.

So instead, they’re celebrating his life the way the preschooler would’ve wanted. Alex says the event will have bounce houses, magicians, and more for kids. 

But most importantly, he hopes it will bring families together.

“I’m a busy day, like every other busy dad, I’m not special in any way,” he said. “The week before he died, I don’t know why but we did extra stuff together. I woke up early the day that he died and made him pancakes,” he said.

Alex says in the week leading up to the accident, he and his son went to the movies, and spent quality time together. 

Which is why through celebrating his son’s life, he and his wife and hoping to brings families together.

“We want people to spend time with their kids,” he said. “Put your phones away, put work aside for a little bit, cause you just don’t know when life is going to get really messy.”

And now they’re hoping through Carter’s legacy, they can make that mess into something beautiful.


If you would like to help the Joseph Family, you can donate to the Live Outside the Lines fund to help them support children’s art in Carter’s memory.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.