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SWEET HOME, Ore. – On a quiet countryside just outside Sweet Home, Jim Simonis has a lot of time to think and wonder, but his mind never drifts or strays too far, especially on May 23.
One year ago this Sunday, Simonis’ three inseparable children had taken their dog to their mom, who is a vet, but they never made it home. Police said their car was hit by a drunk driver on Highway 228 near Brownsville.
Caleb Frank, 19, and Shelby Rose, 16, died in the crash. Their 15-year-old sister Kylee Ann was badly hurt but survived. A year ago, Simonis told KEZI 9 News if anyone was going to survive the wreck, it was Kylee because of her strength.
Having been one of three kids who never did anything without the others, Kylee had no choice but to learn how.
“The four little animals are all Shelby’s. ... Kylee Ann’s taking care of everything down here now,” Simonis said.
There’s no perfect recipe or one size fits all for someone grieving, and Simonis said it’s one day at a time. The odds of tearing up each day are 50/50, and Simonis said it’s rare to mourn the loss of both at the same time.
“So one of us that day will tear up and the other person will say what’s up, and I’ll say I’m having a bad Caleb day,” Simonis said.
Other times something will result in a Shelby day, he said.
But every day, they’re grateful for their 4-H and FFA family, who immediately showered them with love and support, helping guide them through.
“And it's not just somebody you call on the phone who will tell you how to do it,” Simonis said. “They'll just show up at the house, and they'll show up every day if they have to, and there's no money transferred.”
Immediately after Kylee’s surgeries, still immobilized, she could only move and write with her right hand.
“She wrote FFA and 4-H Strong, and you know it was just kind of cute it was the first things she said,” Simonis.