PROVO, Utah — A Provo woman is being credited for saving her husband and sister after the family was in a rollover accident while traveling to Colorado for Thanksgiving.
The accident occurred Nov. 25 around 11:30 p.m. on East I-80 near Elk Mountain, Wyoming, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper John Page. Eight months pregnant, Erika Grow was driving her husband, Kevin Grow, her 17-year-old sister, Naomi Merrill, and her two young sons to Aurora, Colorado, to visit her mother and father for Thanksgiving.
The vehicle hit a patch of black ice on the interstate and spun out of control, Page said. The vehicle slid off the road and rolled three times before landing on its wheels. During the accident, Kevin Grow and Naomi Merrill were ejected from the vehicle, Page said.
Because of Kevin Grow’s work as a roofer, he had tools in the back of the vehicle that were scattered during the accident. However, Erika Grow and her 21-month-old and 3-year-old sons were “virtually unscathed” during the accident, Page said.
“The boys had not a scratch or a bruise on them,” said Erika Grow’s mother, Patti Merrill. “A lot of those tools were flying around in the car, saws and hammers and axes, and none of them hit anybody. It is just truly miraculous.”
Erika Grow turned off the Tahoe and turned the hazard lights on after the vehicle had stopped rolling. In 28-degree weather and freezing rain, Erika Grow immediately began pulling clothing from their suitcases and putting the clothes on her children to keep them warm. Then she began searching for the rest of her family with the dim glow of the hazards lights.
“. . .I jumped out of the broken driver’s side window to start searching for my husband and sister who were no longer in the vehicle,” she wrote on the family’s fundraiser page. “Right away, I found my sister Naomi, maybe 20 feet away from the car. After covering her up with some clothing, I continued yelling at the top of my lungs for my sweet husband. I could not find him anywhere. I couldn’t find anyone’s cell phones.”
Erika Grow ran to the highway and began flagging down vehicles. Eventually, a vehicle with three men stopped and they called 911. Emergency responders arrived and located Kevin Grow about 75 feet away from the vehicle, Page said. All five family members were transported by ambulance to the Carbon County Memorial Hospital in Rollins, Wyoming.
Kevin Grow and Naomi Merrill both received serious head trauma during the accident and Kevin’s spleen had ruptured, requiring emergency surgery, Page said. Kevin Grow and Naomi Merrill were both airlifted to the University of Utah Hospital.
Erika Grow began having contractions and the doctors were afraid she would go into premature labor, Patti Merrill said.
“But her baby is fine,” Patti Merrill said. “It’s just a miracle. She had an ultrasound (Monday) and the baby’s doing great. And we actually got to see him smile at us during the ultrasound. It was amazing. That’s the most joy we have felt since the incident.”
Kevin Grow and Naomi Merrill remained in the Intensive Care Unit at the U. Hospital as of Tuesday evening, but Patti Merrill said Kevin Grow had shown a lot of progress and they have hopes of him being moved soon from the ICU.
She said the family has felt blessed during the incident and they are thankful for the community support.
“We truly feel that there were miraculous events involved,” she said. “It could have been so much worse. With Thanksgiving the next day, and people say, ‘Wow, what a horrible Thanksgiving for you.’ But honestly, our hearts were filled with gratitude on that day to know of the many blessings we were able to receive despite the tragedy.”
An online fundraiser has been set up to help the family pay for medical expenses.