A Red Deer couple’s dream trip to Disneyland turned tragic when their van rolled in Utah, killing their 10-year-old son and injuring his five brothers and sisters.
Reynaldo and Caroline Vibas’s family of eight was heading on a two-week vacation to visit family in California and visit the Magic Kingdom when the July 8 accident happened on a stretch of highway near Scipio, a small town about 185 km south of Salt Lake City.
Utah Highway Patrol said the van was southbound when it rolled on Interstate 15 about 9:10 a.m. It is believed the van caught the shoulder and the driver lost control.
Two people were thrown from the vehicle when it rolled three times in the median. John Ray Vibas was partially ejected and died from his injuries at the scene, said police. The remaining injured were taken to a nearby hospital in Nephi by air and ground ambulance.
Relative Karen Pangan said four of the children suffered minor injuries and have returned to Red Deer, where they are being cared for by family.
Reynaldo suffered a broken collarbone and shoulder and his wife, who was driving, suffered minor injuries. They remain in Utah at the side of daughter Carey, 20, who was the most severely injured.
Pangan said Carey was in a coma following the accident but is showing signs of improvement. “She can move her and her hands. She has a very good response.
“She is in stable condition now. She can open her eyes, but she is not able to talk.”
The family hopes Carey can be transferred to a Calgary hospital as early as this weekend.
Pangan said family members in Red Deer were shocked when a Utah emergency dispatcher seeking relatives left a phone message about the accident.
“It’s still hard, especially when we heard the boy was dead. He’s very close to our son, his cousin. Every time he remembers, he feels sad. He misses (him) a lot.”
Her son Kyle always insisted on bringing John Ray when he went biking or fishing with his uncle, she said.
As soon as word got out about the accident, friends and family rallied to help them. Pangan’s husband Carl, who is Caroline’s brother and a pastor from their Word of Life Church, flew to Utah the day after the accident for support and remains there.
Koinonia Christian School classmates of second oldest daughter, 17-year-old Crystal, also flew down to the state to be there for their friend. Carey graduated from the school last year. The Vibas family also includes Charline, 14, Angelica, 12, and four-year-old Christian.
Fundraising efforts have already begun for the family. The Word of Life Church is involved and members of the local Filipino community also want to raise money.
Family friend Mauricia Padilla said she also hopes to arrange an event next month to raise financial support for the family and she plans to discuss her plans with the church.
“The Filipino community felt very sad,” she said. “We want to try and see if we can help.”