Monday, August 13, 2012

This Is Why We Are Doing This

The Whittle Family gravesite at the Oakley Cemetary, Oakley, Idaho

It's been a year since we lost them.

It was Sunday, August 14th, 2011 at about 2:35 in the afternoon. The Whittle's had just finished a visit to see family in Oakley, Idaho, and were on their way to attend BYU's Education Week in Provo, Utah. Vicki and Randy had just loaded their two children, MacLean (16) and Brittany (13) into their single engine plane at the Burley Airport, waved good-bye to Randy's parents and then proceeded to take off.

Just as the plane started to gain altitude, something went wrong. It banked hard to the left and witnesses at the scene say it looked as if the plane was attempting to return to the airport. Instead it went down - hitting  hard on the highway - leaving a deep gash in the road. It struck a nearby railroad line, bending the rail and then it crashed a few feet later, bursting into flames.

Lucinda and I got a phone call sometime around 5:30 that evening. It was from the West Jordan Police Department. They were already at Mom's apartment, giving her the bad news. I'll never forget the feeling I had the moment I found out what had happened. We immediately called some friends and asked them to watch Ben and Emily while we hurried over to be with Mom.

The next 24 hours was so busy. I was on the phone almost the whole time, calling my brother Glen in Missouri, gathering information from the Coroner's office in Idaho, talking to Randy's family - all the while trying make sense of everything. We came home late in the evening and broke the news to the kids. We all cried. It was the worst day of my life.
Visting the crash site Saturday, August 11th, 2012
We were able to go as a family to re-visit the crash site this past Saturday. It was the first time that Misti's daughter, Parker was able to see it. The burn scar is long gone, but you can still smell the oil left behind and you can still find small pieces of the plane wreckage scattered around.

This button was found at the crash site on August 15th, 2011. It was Brittany's. She had received it at a recent LDS Youth Conference. It was one of two buttons she had with her in the plane.

This was the second button that Brittany had with her. It was found at the crash site one year later.

We were also able to visit the gravesite at the Whittle Family plot in the Oakley Cemetary. We had a wreath made with a banner that read, "Forever a Family."

It's still hard, even after a year.

We all still miss each one of them very much.

Last year, while we attended the Festival of Trees, little Emily noticed that each tree at the festival was dedicated in honor of someone who had died. She asked why we hadn't made a tree for Brittany or MacLean. Since we didn't have an answer for her, we figured we needed to do something about it. It was then that the decision was made to do a tree for each of them. One tree for the whole family wouldn't work. Each person needed their own tree.

This is why we are doing this. This is why we are doing the Four Trees.