It was the beginning of the winter break in the year 2000. I was remarkably ecstatic about going on a road trip with my family. This year we planned Christmas to be a memorable time for our family. We had some relatives who would be joining us for the trip.
My name is Kathy Burris. I am the second child of my parents. I have an older brother by the name of David. My dad is an affluent member of the society in San Diego, California. My mother is a stay-at-home mom, who always has her hands full.
My dad is the youngest of 5 brothers in his family. I have a cousin from one of my father’s oldest brothers, who is almost the same age as my father. My cousin’s name is Leon. Despite being almost as old as my father, Leon does not have any children because he is sterile.
My dad and Leon planned a trip to St. Michael’s Church at Shasta Lake for this Christmas. My dad wanted to get away from work. Leon enjoys being with us because the rest of my dad’s family is back in Ireland. My dad and Leon were the only ones from their family who moved to California.
St Michael’s Church was up north in California. There would be some parts of the journey where we could face turbulent weather and some dangerously uneven terrain. But there was nothing my father and Leon couldn’t arrange for the road trip. They both had cars for the job.
Getting Ready for the Road Trip
My father had a 1990 Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagon. Leon had an older Chevrolet K-5 Blazer. The Blazer was huge but it was a two-door. My dad’s car had a 5,400 horsepower engine with three cabins. Each one of those cabins could easily fit two people.
There were six of us, including Leon and his wife Debra, going to St. Michael’s Church for Christmas. My dad and Leon decided on taking just my dad’s station wagon for the trip and to leave the Blazer at home. They could both take turns in driving. If one of them gets tired of driving, the other could take over.
They decided to take the station wagon because everybody could be in the same vehicle at the same time. They decided this because they believed it would be difficult to stick together with two vehicles in heavy traffic and or bad weather conditions. This way we could have as many pit-stops on the way if any one of us got tired. It would be easier to convince somebody to continue the journey, just because we were all in the same car.
The trunk of the station wagon had the most leg space. In the trunk is where we would store all the supplies. There was still enough room for somebody to sleep on the seats. We would take turns sleeping based on who was the most tired.
Let the Journey Begin
Our journey began on Friday, December 22, 2000. Leon took the steering wheel and let my dad rest at the beginning of the trip. The journey would take us almost 11 to 12 hours if we drove non-stop. But we all knew that was not going to happen.
The first hour and a half passed and we weren’t very much tired in the journey. But we stopped just in case someone had to go to the bathroom. We stopped for about an hour, some of us got some snacks and drinks. My dad took over the driving from there.
I started getting stomach cramps from sitting so long in the car and my brother was getting a headache. My brother was sitting in the front with dad and Leon. I went to sleep in the back seat. Mom and Debra were in the middle cabin of the station wagon.
We were at a place where the road was passing in between mountains. We were on the highway and all of a sudden it started to rain. The rain quickly turned into hailstones hitting the roof of the station wagon. I was sleeping in the back I got up to see what happened as dad and Leon were discussing pulling over.
The visibility was getting really bad due to the weather and the hailstones didn’t make driving any easier. Dad pulled the car to the side because he could hardly see anything. After all, it was dark and a downward cliff. I got up to look to the front of the vehicle. Just as dad hit the brakes, the car swerved to the side.
Instead of stopping the car skidded even faster and collided with something huge on the side of the road. I came flying from the last cabin of the car into the feet of Debra in the second cabin. The windshield broke and David’s head was drenched in blood.
Nothing happened to Leon somehow. Dad’s head was struck by the steering wheel and he was dripping with blood all over. Surprisingly, Leon, Debra, and mom were not hurt so much, but everyone was unconscious for some time. Leon got up first and went to look at what happened outside the car.
Turns out we hit a semi-truck parked on the side of the road due to the weather. We never thought we would need any truck accident attorneys when we started our journey. The driver of the semi-truck called emergency services for us. That’s right, we were not the first car to hit his truck in this weather.
We were the only car in which everybody survived. Dad had a fractured jaw and he had his teeth wired shut for two weeks by the doctors. The only food he could eat for two weeks was just soup. I regurgitated blood intermittently for two days straight.
All of us in that car on that day were tragically injured. We all faced serious injuries that would change the rest of our lives. Luckily we all lived to tell the story.