It was like any other Thanksgiving Day. We were on our way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for dinner. It was a day for family and we were together, except KaraLee’s older sister. So there were five us in the minivan that trip.
KaraLee was eager to get more driving experience and asked to drive. We started this trip off just like any other. It was tradition that whenever we got in the car, the driver would say “Click report,” and each member of the family would reply “click” when they were secured in their seat belt. Then, when all the clicks were accounted for, the driver would know that everyone had their seat belt on. We had started this tradition when the kids were just young and could barely say the word click. It was a game to them then. Everyone replied, and we were on our way.
It was a two-hour drive, and we were five minutes from dinner in Tabionia, Utah. KaraLee was conscious of the speed limits and the rules of the road. I trusted her driving skills and knew that the only way for her to get the experience of driving was to let her drive. We talked about being with family, and, as was tradition on some of our trips, Dad read out loud to us as we traveled.
This split-second decision changed our lives forever. KaraLee and her Dad were killed instantly. The other children and I were flown and taken by ambulance to Salt Lake City hospitals. Her brother sustained severe injuries from head to toe and now has use of only one eye. We suffer most from the void left in our hearts. Every day is painful.
The conscious decision to wear our seat belts that day saved three of us. Every choice counts when you’re in a vehicle, whether you’re driving or not.