CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Nick Clavier died over the weekend from a gunshot wound he suffered while he drove his children to a fishing trip Saturday. The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain under investigation, however initial reports indicated police were not looking for any suspects. Clavier's family said they were still unsure how Nick was shot and awaited autopsy results for answers.
"The investigation continues, but at this point police do not suspect foul play and are not searching for anyone else in relation to the incident," a Chesterfield Police spokeswoman said.
Following the shooting, the vehicle Clavier was driving crashed into a tree along the 8700 block of Hull Street Road.
"The car was situated here it had run into a tree," explained Pastor Rob Mills of Cross Point Church of the Nazarene.
Pastor Rob Mills described the accident scene outside Cross Point church of the Nazarene Saturday; a day of cleanup that was supposed to take place the week prior turned into a day of rescue and ministry.
"If you'd have seen the condition of the car just the accident alone and to know a gunshot went off, an angel of mercy was hovering over them," said Mills.
With the SUV wrapped and smoking around the tree, and her father critically injured inside the vehicle, the nine-year-old daughter got her younger sister and two younger brothers out of the car. The children, aged nine, eight, six and four, then walked through the woods to a nearby church for safety, Clavier's father-in-law Pastor Nathan Boehm said.
"My oldest granddaughter, she instantly reacted when the car hit the tree," Boehm said. "She trekked them through the woods and to the church where they were safe."
"The 8 year old, she was under the seat so our granddaughter had to get her out too to corral them together," said Boehm.
"She led the kids out and she immediately began to tell the youth workers what had transpired," said Mills.
"They are giving two scenarios; one is road rage, another is an accidental shooting from his gun -- they did find the gun in the car," added Boehm. "It didn't go off in anybody's hand because they have checked that, so it was an accidental thing."
Clavier and Boehm's daughter had been married nearly 11 years, the Richmond Family Worship Center pastor said. He said he was grateful for his faith community which has come together and allowed his daughter and their extended family to grieve.
"It's not easy to hold your own faith," he admitted. "You have to allow yourself to grieve and allow others to hold to that faith for you."
He said telling his four grandchildren their father was not coming home was one of the hardest things he ever experienced.
"I can't even start to explain the heartache of losing someone you thought was yours forever, but I'm learning there is a hurt near the same, if not more and that's watching your children morn [sic]for their daddy," Clavier's wife posted on social media. "My girls are taking this very, very hard. Please pray for them."
The hardest day of my entire life was watching my daughter grieving over her husband for those 25 hours," said Boehm. "My daughter sat the four kids on the couch and told them their daddy wasn't coming home. The oldest one, who was the hero in getting the kids out, she took the blame on herself."
Community members started a GoFundMe to help Nick Clavier's wife and children. The page has helped raise more than $20,000 after Clavier's death (as of Monday).
"Thank you everyone for all you have done for me," Clavier's wife posted on social media. "I'm truly blessed to have all of you."
Funeral arrangements for Nick Clavier have not yet been finalized.