A mom and her unborn child were killed when her car was struck from behind by a pickup truck after stalling on a highway in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The woman was on the phone with her father, who assured her help was on the way, when the accident happened.
The crash that killed 21-year-old Valery Arreola, who was eight months pregnant with a boy, also critically injured her 3-year-old son, Guillermo, WOOD-TV reported.
The young mother’s 5-year-old son, Max, escaped with only minor injuries.
Arreola was taking her young sons to a family outing when she pulled onto a northbound US-131, a highway that cuts through Grand Rapids, at about 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7.
Shortly afterwards, her 1999 Nissan Altima stalled.
Her sister, Nohemi Arreola, said she pulled over to the shoulder.
“She calls my dad and says, ‘Hey, my car just stopped. What do I do?’” Nohemi Arreola told WOOD-TV. “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 slammed into the back of Arreola’s car, police told reporters.
Minutes after the crash, a man stopped to offer assistance after hearing Arreola calling out for help.
Martin Junglas saw Arreola pinned behind the steering wheel and someone already on the scene holding one of her children.
“I was praying over Valery and she said ‘Are my children alright?'” Junglas told WXMI reporters.
Then he saw the other boy trapped inside the car.
“(I) saw her son … in the front seat hunched over,” the man said.
The boy was not breathing, according to Junglas, so he performed CPR.
“And on the third breath he started to breathe and started to moan.”
The man says the child’s feet were pinned in the vehicle and he couldn’t get him out. “The fireman used the Jaws of Life to open the car up,” he said.
Arreola and her children were transported to hospital.
Doctors delivered the baby, but were unable to save him or his mother’s life.
“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,” Arreola’s sister said. “They were beautiful.”
Arreola son Max was not seriously injured in the incident.
“He made it out with just two scratches on his face, thank God,” Nohemi Arreola said. “His guardian angel was really watching him.”
Her younger son Guillermo suffered broken bones and a fractured skull, along with internal bleeding. It is reported he has undergone two surgeries.
“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,” Arreola’s sister told WOOD-TV. “We’re not losing hope and we’re not losing faith in God.”
The young woman’s father was on the phone with her when her vehicle was hit.
“I’ve never seen my dad break down the way he did yesterday,” Nohemi Arreola said. “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.”
The driver of the pickup truck was treated for injuries and released. Police say speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors in the crash.
The family says it plans to help the boys’ father raise his sons.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.