WEYMOUTH (CBS) – Survivors and relatives of a Massachusetts family killed in a crash during a vacation to Disney World last week say they’re extremely grateful for the friends and strangers who have opened their arms to support them.
In the Fay family home in Weymouth, they told WBZ-TV Wednesday they lean on each other for strength and give thanks for the two surviving sisters, Shalie and Skylar Smith.
“I’m grateful that they’re alive. I mean honestly. I’m grateful that Bill was there,” Shane said. “I don’t think I could have done this by myself.”
Shane Smith and his father-in-law Bill Fay were just a day into a Disney vacation meticulously planned by Bill’s daughter, Julie, Shane’s wife. “She’d pretty much say, ‘mom, dad, you’re going right?’ And we enjoyed it,” Shane said.
None more than the princesses. Ten-year-old Shalie and her five-year-old twin sisters Skylar and Scarlett. “She’s just a sweetie,” Bill said. “She used to call me her big bear.”
Julie was killed in the crash, along with Scarlett, his 12-year-old son Jaxon and his mother in-law, Bill’s wife, Josephine Fay.
Shane said he doesn’t remember the crash.
“I was hanging by the seat belt. Looking down,” Bill Fay said. “And Shane was underneath me and unconscious.”
They were slowing down in traffic ten miles from Disney World when the truck behind them hit them with such force it flipped the van on its side. Passing drivers pulled Shane and Bill and the surviving sisters into their cars.
“I did see the jaws of life being used on the vehicle,” Bill said. “And it had impacted right where my wife had been sitting.”
Josephine, Bill’s wife of 51 years, was gone.
“Jo used to say to me ‘If anything happens to me you’re not going to know what to do.’ And I’d fluff it off. But she was right,” Bill said. “Yes. I lost my best friend, Lisa. I lost my best friend.”
It would be hours before Julie’s sister Susan, home in Massachusetts, reached her dad in the hospital and then called her siblings.
“She just said there’s been a horrible car accident,” Bill Fay Jr. said. “Mom’s dead. I just started crying. But it didn’t stop. She then said Julie and then Scarlett. My mind can’t even handle it. And then she said Jaxon is really bad.”
Jaxon, the soccer-loving sixth grader, was flown to the hospital but could not survive. His organs saved at least four lives.
“His heart and his liver were able to go to children that were younger than him. His kidneys and his lungs were obviously given to separate, but older, considered young adults,” Shane said. “It certainly makes you feel good from the standpoint that he was able to help somebody. That makes you feel better.”
They say there is comfort in memory.
“My daughter was a remarkable person,” Bill said. “I can’t say enough. She loved her children and she was so bright.”
Even now, Bill feels Jo with him. “I know she’s in heaven because she couldn’t be anywhere else,” Bill said. “We know they’re all in heaven. They’re all angels.”
All four will be remembered at a wake this Friday and a funeral on Saturday. Ten-year-old Shalie will read a poem for each of them.