Crystal Vibas will remember her 10-year-old brother who died in a highway crash as a fun-loving kid who liked to hip hop dance, climb trees and tease his sisters.
“He’s funny. He liked to joke around,” said Crystal, of her brother John Ray. “He was very active too. He played basketball and soccer.”
But his dancing was one of the things he liked best and he would often bust a few break dance moves. Last December, he landed a role in a church play —as what else — a dancer.
John Ray was travelling with his parents and five brothers and sisters in the family minivan when something went wrong on a stretch of Utah highway just after 9 a.m. The van veered off the road, went out of control and rolled. John Ray died of his injuries at the scene.
Crystal, 16, said her brother will be missed. “He’s awesome. He’s a really good brother.”
She doesn’t remember anything of the crash that happened as the family was heading to California to see Disneyland and visit relatives.
“When I woke up I was in the hospital. I didn’t know what was happening. I was asking myself why I was in the hospital.
“I asked where my mom was. My mom came in and she told me.” Crystal was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a broken shoulder, a sprained ankle and a leg injury.
Her sister Carey, 20, was also ejected and suffered the most severe injuries of the survivors. She was airlifted to a hospital and was in a coma for several days.
Her condition has steadily improved in recent days and she has been moving her fingers and toes. The family hopes she will soon be well enough to transfer to a Calgary hospital.
Crystal said a group of her Koinonia Christian School friends and parents travelled to Utah and brought her and three siblings home on Monday. They are back in their Red Deer home now being cared for by relatives.
“We’re actually doing good now,” she said.
Younger sister Charline also doesn’t remember much of what happened that morning.
The 14-year-old was asleep, buckled into the middle seat in the back row.
“What I know is the wheels started going uncontrolled,” she said. “It started moving to the sides and my mom was trying to get it back to the road.
“And then it just went out of control and rolled to the side. It rolled three times or something like that.”
The battered minivan came to rest beside the highway. When Charline opened her eyes she could see her brother wasn’t moving.
Charline needed five stitches to close a cut in her hand. A younger sister Angelica and her four-year-old brother Christian had minor injuries. Her father Reynaldo suffered a broken collar bone and shoulder injuries and her mother Caroline was less badly hurt.
Her parents were to return home Thursday night.
Family and friends in the Filipino community and the Word of Life Church are already talking about ways to help the family. A relative said Reynaldo was recently laid off from his job at Finning.