Two Texas siblings were reunited last Tuesday for the first time in three weeks following a tragic car accident that killed their parents and baby sister earlier this month.
The Day of the Crash
On the Saturday afternoon of April 7, Jim and Karisa Clemens were traveling down a San Angelo highway with their family of seven in-tow. They were heading home from an afternoon church service when another driver came barreling into the family’s Chevy Suburban, killing both Jim and Karisa, along with their 2-month-old daughter, Juliana.
The couple’s other four children, 8-year-old Angela, 5-year-old Zachary, 4-year-old Wyatt and 2-year-old Nicholas all survived the crash.
It’s been nearly a month since the Clemens kids became orphans, and while Nicholas was treated and released from the hospital in the days following the crash, Angie, Zachary and Wyatt were all critically injured.
Karisa’s aunt, Teresa Burrell has been the family’s point person and caretaker since the crash. She flew from her Utah home to be with the Texas siblings as they begin their transition into this new life of healing, grieving, and growing together.
“They’ve come so far,” Burrell told DallasNews.com, “but we know there’s a tough road ahead. They’re in so much pain.”
The Extent of the Damage
Angela was in a coma for several days after the crash before finally waking up. Doctors say she is now stable and able to speak.
Still, half of her body his covered in casts that are supporting her legs, which were crushed in the accident. She also suffered brain trauma which has caused memory loss.
Zachary suffered a broken back and several internal injuries. He’s most recently been fighting fevers and other complications. Burrell says the 5-year-old was conscious throughout the impact of the crash, and has had on-going night terrors as a result.
Wyatt suffered severe head trauma and was in a coma as well. Several strokes caused further complications, leaving half of his body paralyzed. Burrell says with the help of physical therapy and lots of prayers, he’s now walking again, and even trying to run around.
A high risk of infection and the severity of their injuries had prevented the siblings from seeing each other since the accident. But last Tuesday, that all changed.
Reunited, and it feels so good.
Burrell snapped a photo of Angie and Zachary being reunited for the first time, and shared it to a Facebook Fundraising page she’s organized for the children.
The two can be seen holding hands as they lay next to each other. Their faces and wounds are enough to make your heart split wide open.
Later in the week, all three siblings were brought together for the first time. They sat side-by-side in their wheelchairs and body braces, with hands locked tight to one another.
Burrell shared about a day when Wyatt climbed up into Angie’s bed to sit with her. The two held hands for a while, and when he went to leave, Angie told her 4-year-old brother, “I need you.” He decided to stay patiently by her side so she would not feel alone.
“I think they’re all feeling that connection to each other and that’s helping them get through this,” Burrell said.
She also told the outlet that while they are completely and utterly devastated, the family has found strength in their faith, and the continuous outpouring of prayers and support from their tight-knit Texas community.
“People have been so kind and so supportive in their thoughts, in their prayers, in their contributions,” she said. “We feel it, we really do. And we just have so much hope for these children and their future.”
The power of prayer is no joke. My heart feels like it’s torn in half as I read through the month these beautiful babes have been through, and think about the future ahead as they navigate life with such a gaping hole missing. Join me in praying for them today, and every day, as their journey has just only begun.