What was meant to be a fun family day of sledding came to an abrupt end when a mother’s car broke down on the road.
As WOOD-TV reports, Valery Arreola and her sons, 5-year-old Max and 3-year-old Guillermo, were traveling around Grand Rapids, Michigan, in her 1999 Nissan. As she entered a freeway, the car stalled on her.
The 21-year-old pregnant mom eased her car to the side of the road and called her father for help. Arreola’s sister, Nohemi Arreola, described the heartbreaking phone call to WOOD-TV:
“She calls my dad and says, ‘Hey, my car just stopped. What do I do?” And he said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re on our way, we’ll come and get you.’ And as they’re on the phone, my dad says he hears the loud crash, and then nothing.”
A pickup truck had slammed into the back of Arreola’s car.Screenshot/GoFundMe
Witness Martin Junglas ran to help when the crash happened. He told Fox17 that another person had already gotten one of the children to safety when he got there, but the other boy was pinned inside the car. He explained:
“[I] saw her son … in the front seat hunched over. And I immediately ran over to him and picked him up and started breathing air into him. And on the third breath he started to breathe and started to moan.”
Junglas added that first responders were able to use the “jaws of life” to extricate the boy. He also told Fox17 that he prayed over Valery:
“Her only concern was for her children. She didn’t care about her injuries or her pain. She just wanted to make sure her children were alright.”
The family was rushed to the hospital, but doctors couldn’t save Valery or her unborn son. Valery was due to give birth in February.Screenshot/GoFundMe
“They delivered him, wrapped him up in a nice blanket for us and allowed us to visit with his body at least, and he was beautiful, and they were at peace. They were beautiful.”
Although Max managed to survive with just a few scratches, his brother Guillermo suffered internal bleeding, broken bones and a fractured skull.Screenshot/GoFundMe
Junglas described how he tried to comfort Valery:
“But she knew as she passed away that her children were safe. I had told her that as I left the vehicle that her children were safe and would be okay.”
As Fox17 reports, in a surprising coincidence, Valery’s 3-year-old son’s hospital bed at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is just a few doors away from that of Junglas’s 3-year-old son, who was crushed by a tree limb on New Year’s Day.
According to WOOD-TV, Guillermo has already had two surgeries, and Nohemi says the family is focused on his healing. She said:
“We’re all just trying to stay as strong as we can for him and not giving up, despite the doctors telling us he might not make it and it’s time to be real about that. We’re not losing hope and we’re not losing faith in God.”
Nohemi’s heart is also breaking for their dad, who heard his daughter’s last words.
“He’s always been the macho man, doesn’t cry and to see him so destroyed because he was the last one to talk to Valery on the phone, seeing him break down like that, it’s been hard.”
WOOD-TV reports that police say speed and alcohol didn’t appear to be factors in the accident. The 35-year-old man who drove the pickup truck was treated and released following the crash.
A GoFundMe page has been established to help family members pay for funeral and medical expenses.
See more on the accident below: