::pack:: of fixations

life after tragedy. living while grieving. love and triplets.



I remember looking up as the head lights jumped the median and squeezing my eyes shut before the impact.  I remember that horrible smell and my ears ringing so bad that I was sure there'd be permanent damage.  I remember hearing a child cry and Ryan's painful moans.  I was drowning yet I wasn't under water.  I was terrified.  I was angry that people kept asking me the same questions over and over.  Why weren't they asking me important things?  I remember when they took Colum, I can recite the exact words that were said.  I kept repeating the words he has no pulse inside my head.  I remember screaming and losing control for a second, but quickly focusing back on trying to suck in enough oxygen so I could thrive long enough to get to him.  Breathing in was almost impossible.  I remember that the minutes felt like hours. 

I remember being pulled from the car and hearing my bones cracking.  My left arm kept falling off the stretcher and I wished I would just die every time it did.  I remember being in the ambulance and wondering why it wasn't moving.  I remember men shouting to remember to duck when approaching the helicopter since they had to leave the propeller running.  We will be at the Hospital in only about 7 minutes the kind man told me as the helicopter lifted off the ground.  7 minutes didn't seem very fast at the time, I didn't feel like I had 7 more minutes and I didn't want to fight for 7 more minutes.  I remember thinking about Christmas morning and knowing it was slipping through my fingers.  But what I didn't know is that most people don't remember this stuff.

On Friday Ryan, Finn, and I went up to the Hospital and met with our amazing AirMed team that rescued us.   I knew very little to nothing about what they did exactly until this happened to us.  They save lives.  They see so much sadness and suffering.  After they deliver critical patients to the hospital they are off to rescue the next person.  They are modern day superheroes and we are so grateful for them.  We were lucky that it was a clear night so AirMed had enough visibility to come to our rescue.  The accident happened next to a golf course, which turned out to be quite convenient for the possibility to park 3 helicopters next to a very busy road.  I can't decide if I want Finn to work for AirMed so he can live out his childhood superhero fantasies or be an Occupational Therapist when he grows up.  

Colum was buckled in his car seat behind me.  The flight nurse that took care of him told us that he was able to get his heartbeat and blood pressure back to normal.  "Babies and young children usually bounce back quickly", he said.  He had no idea what was wrong with him because he looked...perfect.  He gave him medication for pain and later learned that he wasn't going to make it.  His injuries were so rare they actually called the world specialist on Christmas Eve to take a look at his x-rays.  His spine was severed at the very top of his neck so there was no way that he would ever be able to breathe on his own.  He died.  My baby died while he was right behind me buckled in his car seat.  It's likely he didn't feel pain.  He was gone.  In a split second my baby was just gone.  Due to the severity of his injuries life support wouldn't really sustain his body for very long and that is why he had to go on Christmas Day.  

All of them came on helicopters from different places: Orem, Park City, and Salt Lake City.  All of them told us that when they arrived and saw our cars they didn't expect to find any of us alive.  They do and see this kind of stuff for a living and were shocked to see any survivors.  We learned that they administer medication to give patients amnesia, and that I was given this as well as pain medication.  Obviously neither of these worked on me.  I naturally have a high tolerance for pain medications, it actually runs in my family.  This is not a good thing and when I am in a doctors care and try to explain this it just looks like I am looking for a high.  I told them my memories of being wheeled into the ER and how I got the impression that I wasn't wanted.  I was horrified and the people surrounding me wearing white coats and scrubs weren't friendly & it felt as though they hated me.  There was one woman with light brown hair who held my hand and talked to me for a few seconds.  She told me I was going to be okay and had sympathy not anger in her eyes.  I wanted to speak to her, ask her not to leave my side, tell her how much I hurt, how scared I was, and how much I needed her to stay.   There were orders being shouted all around me and I was surrounded by young residents, and machines with monitors, tubes, and needles.  I remember my new Frye boots being cut off my calves and the scissors touching my skin as my jeans and blouse were cut from my broken body.  I felt exposed and shy but talked myself out of it.  

They were surprised to hear about a horrible experience I had when I was supposed to be asleep but was just paralyzed and could still feel my body crying in pain, and could still hear the things being said about me.  They encouraged me to talk to some one about my experience so it doesn't happen again.  That it's not supposed to happen, because I'm not supposed to remember.  The drugs didn't work on me.  

I asked them why exactly couldn't I breathe?  I asked dozens of nurses and doctors after coming to and nobody really knew.  Well, you had a ruptured diaphragm they told me.  They weren't sure until after the CT scan because they've only seen a handful of ruptured diaphragms.  Yes!  That makes sense!  I had no idea until 2 days ago that my diaphragm had been ruptured.  Closure.  Answers.  You had a lot of life threatening injuries.  You are lucky to be alive.  I've heard others tell us that, I've thought that myself from time to time.  But, coming from the superheroes it really sunk in.  We told them it was because of our Subaru but they didn't seem convinced.  

In a strange way I'm glad I remember some things... because I like to know.  I still had questions.  It's crazy having your baby who has no pulse being taken from the seat behind you and not knowing anything.  I couldn't speak because it was such a struggle to breathe.  Most of my family heading home that night heard on the radio that there was an accident and went around us to avoid traffic.  My Brother's family passed the scene and didn't recognize our car.  They had no idea until 10-11pm that night after somebody read about it on Facebook and then called somebody.  

I'm glad Colum was with these amazing people and it brings comfort knowing he was well taken care of.  The AirMed crew are some of the strongest people I've ever met.  
Just want to give a shout out to all of our Superheroes from AirMed:

Jim Howe
Doug Morgan
Josh Wall
Brian Simpson
Roxanne Fawson


All of our heroes.  Questions were answered and we were able to get some closure.  I love these guys.  Owe them our lives.

The ER/trauma room I was first brought to.  It was surreal seeing this  and being in there again.

This is where I got my first catscan.  I was paralyzed but could still feel like I was moving.  It felt like I was going through a tunnel.  I was terrified I was going to get cut open while still awake.

The table swings out... tight fit in there.

Finn would rather get bit by a spider and swing from buildings when he grows up but I'm hoping he won't be too heartbroken when he learns that probably won't happen.  Maybe this memory will inspire him to rescue people :)

The landing pad on top of the parking garage at U of U Hospital.  It's actually really pretty up here.

This is the actual helicopter I rode in.  I remember it being a tight fit and seeing it up close, IT IS TINY.  I vomited on poor Doug in here.


  1. What a fantastic field trip for you 3! And what a fitting tribute to those true heroes who saved your lives. I am grateful to them.

    Jonathan was also airlifted from the scene the wreck that almost took his life. The amazing thing is that within minutes of the collision (we don't like to call it an "accident"), an off-duty EMT drove up and had a triage bag with him. Since this was on a fairly remote county road, it was amazing that this angel of a young man arrived at such a timely moment. He organized all the first aid and stayed with Jon until the on-duty folks arrived and he was getting the care he needed. It took several months before we even learned his name, and it was just by chance that we did so. He wanted no recognition and no thanks. He was just glad that he stopped, was prepared and saved a life.

    We were called to the scene, and it is the call no parent wants to receive. But I also need to KNOW, and I'm grateful I could be there. We did an all-night vigil at the hospital as they performed emergency exploratory surgery on him.
    His ordeal wasn't anything near what your family went through (for which we are so grateful). We are thankful every day for his good health. It could have been so much worse.

    As this is the first Thanksgiving since your terrible wreck (also not an "accident" when someone made a terrible choice to get high and get behind the wheel) we are very thankful that you, Ryan, and Finn are still with us, that you have made such a remarkable recovery considering how battered and broken you were.

    We are deeply saddened that Colum's life was taken and also that you still suffer from terrible grief and pain. But we love you so much and wish there were something we could do to make your life a little better. We are proud you are part of our family. You are indeed a very important part of the family.

    Sending our love.

    1. I remember hearing about Jonathan and feeling so helpless. It's absolutely terrifying what you guys all went through. You are such a light in our lives. Finn thanks you for all his new spiderman stuff. He also loves that you live in California :)

  2. You and your cute family are so strong! You have gone through so much and I really appreciate you sharing everything on your blog. I love reading your blog, I feel like I know you! You are a big inspiration to me and remind me to hug those in my family a little tighter because you never know what can happen.

  3. You may have seen me comment on Ryan's Instagram, but I hope you realize that they were probably just as thrilled to see you guys as you were them. Reading your description of having the paralytic work but not the sedatives makes me sad - Norah is the same way. Even once after she was given ridiculous amounts of sedatives and even propophol, she kept waking up! Also, at six weeks old, when she was entubated before her MRI and trach surgery, I am pretty sure the paralytic worked but the sedative did not... which tipped her over the edge with her oral aversion.

    Know that you guys are superheroes too. You've touched so many lives, though, like me, you would probably just rather be normal. No mater what though, you are so amazing. Love you guys lots!

  4. So glad you were able to find some answers,hope it will bring some peace.Praying for your family as the one year is quickly approching and I know it will be a tough one.Sending Love:)

  5. I am so glad you shared more about your reunion. I hoped you would after I saw the picture on FB.

  6. I've been following your blog since January, and I've commented on here before because I lost my husband to a traumatic event last year too. But today I want to share with you that I'm also an ER/Trauma nurse and I want you to know that I see things differently now, treat patients differently now. Your experiences have given me a different perspective. I explain to patients why we have to ask them the same questions over and over. I acknowledge that they are in pain and can't breath and we are trying to quickly fix that. Even when a patient is sedated, I assume they can hear and I explain everything we are doing. Your experiences are helping trauma victims here, all the way on the other side of the country. I've shared your blog with some of the other trauma nurses I work with as well. I'm sorry you can remember so much of the beginning of your traumatic night...looking at it from my side I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been. You and your family continue to inspire me everyday.

    1. Thank you! I'm truly in awe of Nurses and all you see and do. My eyes were pried wide open and I can truly appreciate a nurse who treats patients tirelessly through long shifts constantly performing selfless acts to the ill/injured. You are Angels! You are also inspiring my friend. Bless you.

      I'm sorry to hear that you lost your Husband, my heart goes out to you. Good luck to you this holiday season. Thank you!

  7. Simply an amazing, heartbreaking, but hopeful story. It shows how truly precious life really is. My heart hurts for your loss. I remember those same things about my husband. The sights and sounds of that day will never leave my brain. I hope having this view of the heroes, their equipment, and their lifesaving helicopter will help bring some closure to that night. Colum will always be near you and will never forget the love you have for him. I too am continually inspired by you. I'm glad you didn't give up fighting to stay alive...for your Finn, your husband, and your Colum. They love you and that love will sustain you through the hard times and the good times yet to come.

  8. Nothing makes me cry faster than thinking about sweet Colum. I am so sorry your precious baby was taken so tragically but I am glad you got your questions answered and that you have some closure. It still makes me so upset to think about your wreck. I will be praying extra hard for your little family this holiday season. Love you Kelly!

  9. My mom was in near fatal car crash when I was around 5, it nearly left her unable to move from the neck down. I don't recall if we ever got to meet the medics that were on the scene, but I hope they know they saved her life :)

  10. I can still remember my husbands voice when I called him on Christmas Eve at the FD. He sounded really strange. I immediately asked him what was wrong and he said, "I went on the most horrific call, I have ever been on. I could hear the mother screaming for her baby. We transported all of them and I don't think the baby is going to make it. Just pray that he will." I remember watching the news and just pleading with God to save this precious baby and his parents. Does Finn still have his stuffed animal, by the way? I know my hubby ran back to the engine to get him one so he wouldn't be more scared than he was.

    1. I'm sure he does! When we got home there were so many stuffed animals :). Does your Husband remember what color it was? Tell him thank you from us! And thank you for this comment...yet another piece of the puzzle. xoxo

  11. HERO'S indeed. How great it was that you got to meet them again. Hoping meeting them and seeing where it all went down helps you process it all...

    Internet hugs to you all.

  12. I don't have the words to comment on all that you went through. But I did want to tell you that I think your hair looks adorable in these pictures :D

  13. I also think your hair looks adorable! So happy you got to meet these heros. So happy you got some answers. Kind of traumatized that you knew so much of what was going on. I hope Christmas this year will have good memories with you and Ryan and Finn, also. And not just sadness. I am so sorry that it had to be Christmas Day that Colum died. And your birthday. I really hope you can have some happiness despite the pain.

  14. I love these pictures of you guys. You are vibrant and alive and healing. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. You are putting the pieces back together. xoxo arrowsmithchic

  15. This makes me SO happy! What a tender and sweet gift you gave to these incredible "Superheroes".

    I cannot imagine the gratification, peace, and validation you provided these earthly angels who performed their jobs so perfectly. How amazing for them to witness once again your strength, determination, and wills to live. You and Ryan are "Superheroes" yourselves!

    So grateful that answers were received, friendships exchanged, and the experience of healing moments.

    You are walking miracles and I am SO grateful for your willingness to share your sorrows, pain, tenderness and triumphs so that others may have the courage to face the challenges in their own lives. I LOVE YOU!

  16. Your story is truly amazing!!! You are a miracle.
    Thanks as always for sharing!

  17. I'm so glad you were able to go back to the place where you were saved and meet the people who used their God-given talents to save you. As the days go by and it gets closer to Christmas Eve, please know that I am thinking of you and wishing continued strength for you, Ryan and Finn.

  18. I am so pleased to read that you're finally getting some of the answers you need to know and that you got to meet all of these incredible people, they are doing such an important job.

  19. That's one AMAZING crew we have here and I'm glad you had the opportunity to meet them!!! I hope this next month will treat you well my friend, I continue to think of you all everyday!

  20. Kelly,

    I'm thinking of you and your family lots, praying for you this next month. Such a hard time of year for your family. Try to enjoy the Season through Finn's eyes, I'm sure that will help. God Bless you Pack family! Love from Colorado

  21. WOW!!! (If this is here twice, my computer had a weird flash so sorry) This is an amazing story! Thanks for much for sharing your experience. I'm so sorry for your loss, I know this will be a difficult season for you and your family, but I believe there is a lot of love being sent your way, I hope you can feel it and know that a lot of us are thinking of you and sending you our best thoughts and warmest wishes.