It's been a nightmare. A horrible, unimaginable nightmare.
On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14, Rudy Samora got a phone call that every parent dreads.
An accident, a very bad accident.
It was his 17-year-old daughter Kiley on the phone. She didn't know where she was, she just knew that her brother Brett wasn't moving.
A terrifying nightmare.
Rudy figured out where she was and raced to the scene. That's when the horror story got worse.
His three kids, Kiley, Brett, 16, and 15-year-old Breana were injured. It was chaos, sheer terror and panic.
“It was terrifying,” Rudy says. “I wanted to be holding all of them, but I couldn't.”
Kiley and Brett were airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction.
For the past 27 days, the Samora family has lived day to day. Taking every sliver of good news like it's a winning lottery ticket.
Kiley is better, Breana is OK. But Brett is still in the Grand Junction hospital.
The good news is that Brett has been accepted into one of the best physical therapy facilities in the nation. The bad news is, that facility is for people with spinal cord injures.
Right now, Brett can't walk. He's paralyzed.
Rudy hasn't returned home since the accident. Brett is never alone. Rudy and his wife Amy take turns spending the night by Brett's bedside.
Rudy is amazed at the strength and attitude of his son.
“I don't think I would handle it as good as he has. He's pretty amazing,” Rudy says, cracks in his voice evident.
Every day, there are tears.
It's been a nightmare.
At the accident scene, Rudy made a promise to Brett. And he's kept it.
“I promised my son that I would be with him for as long as it took.”
Day to day means lots of prayers and staying strong.
“Today, his legs aren't working, so we're working on what we need to do at the moment,” Rudy says. “It might be another story down the road.”
They are praying for a miracle and miracles happen.
Rudy talks about a woman at St. Mary's Hospital that they met. She was paralyzed for more than two months.
“And now she's walking around the hospital,” Rudy says, his voice alive with thoughts of miracles.
Next week, Rudy, Amy and Brett will head to Denver, to Craig Hospital, a facility that specializes in spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
Rudy and Amy plan to stay as long as possible. The hospital offers 30-day stays at a nearby apartment.
“We'll stay the 30 days and get him settled in, then we'll see,” Rudy says.
The length of rehabilitation is undetermined. It could be as long as four months.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, life changed in an instant for the Samora family.
Friday and Saturday before the accident were two of the best days ever for Kiley. She was homecoming queen. Mom and dad, brother and sister were in the stands proudly watching as she was crowned on the Mancos High School football field.
Sunday morning was undoubtedly the worst day of her life.
After a long day and night of homecoming activities, Kiley was behind the wheel when she dozed off for an instant.
“Emotionally, it's been really hard on her,” Rudy says.
But he says it could have been worse. At the last moment, she corrected the vehicle, steering away from a possible head-on collision with a huge tree.
But the car rolled and the nightmare began.
Rudy says his oldest daughter has spent a lot of time with Brett and he doesn't blame her at all. Brett accepts his responsibility for the injury. He had taken off his seat belt to lie down in the backseat for a nap.
“He regrets that,” Rudy says. “It was his choice that he didn't have his seat belt on.”
Brett and the Samora family hope that the accident will serve as a powerful reminder to kids and adults that seat belts should always be worn.
The Samora family lives in Lewis but the kids go to Mancos High School — a great school, Rudy says.
Kiley was driving home from her job in Mancos on Oct. 14, when she picked up Brett and Breana, who were staying in Cortez.
Ever since the accident, there have been fundraisers, prayers and more community support than anyone can imagine.
Rudy says the family has been blown away by the support.
Support from the school, neighbors, friends, family, hundreds, maybe thousands of people who don't even know the family, have all stepped forward to do whatever they can.
Rudy's voice again cracks when he talks about the outpouring of support.
“You see so much bad news,” Rudy says. ”But this really opened my eyes. It's been amazing.
“I don't think I can ever walk by a donation jar again without putting something in it. I hope I can return my gratitude and service to my community. I hope someday I can help someone else as much as people have helped us,” he says.
Kiley and Breana are currently staying with their aunt. Rudy's crew from his Rustic Wood Construction business, along with L&L Construction workers, have gone to the Samora home and constructed a wheelchair-accessible door and concrete ramp.
“I didn't ask them to do that, they just did it,” Rudy says.
Family and friends are taking care of Kiley and Breana, feeding livestock, handling the chores — doing whatever needs to be done, so Rudy and Amy can keep their focus on being with Brett.
It takes a village.
On Oct. 14, life changed in an instant for the Samora family. Things are getting better, but they still have a long road ahead of them.
The nightmare has given way to hope, and prayers for a miracle.
Today, Brett's legs aren't working. But maybe they will in the future.
“We're taking it day to day,” Rudy says. “Brett has such a good attitude.”
The family is strong — strong for one another. The community has been strong for the Samora family.
Slowly, there's a light at the end of the nightmare.