On April 7, 2018, Jim and Karisa Clemens were driving home from a family outing with their five kids in tow: Angela, 8, Zachary, 5, Wyatt, 4, Nicholas, 2, and Julieanna, 2 months.
Suddenly, another driver lost control of her vehicle on the highway and struck the family’s Suburban in a fatal head-on collision.
Jim and Karisa were killed, along with their two-month-old daughter, Julieanna.
Angela, Zachary, Wyatt and Nicholas were rushed to the hospital, all sustaining varying degrees of injuries.
The community of San Angelo, Texas rallied around the four orphaned siblings as their family has documented their recovery process on social media.
The children’s great aunt, Teresa Burrell, took to Facebook to share a touching photo of Zachary and Angela. The picture, which is going viral, captured the moment the siblings saw each other for the first time after the devastating crash — and it’s a sign of hope among such terrible tragedy.
Jim Alan Clemens and Karisa Brianne Clemens met and became good friends. It was totally platonic, at first… but you know how these things go.
After they’d moved away from one another, Jim and Karisa realized they missed each other desperately.
It wasn’t long before they reunited, fell in love and got married.
The couple from Texas were over the moon about their first child, a baby girl named Angela.
Their family continued to grow with their first son, Zachary…
…and then they got a huge surprise less than one year later, with their son Wyatt.
A third boy, Nicholas, arrived two years later.
Just when it looked as though the Clemens family was complete, they welcomed one last addition in 2018.
Baby Julieanna was the last child Karisa and Jim would bring into the world.
To celebrate their eighth anniversary, Karisa and Jim enjoyed a low-key evening with their children and family friends.
“Nothing says ‘it’s been an awesome 8 years!” like sushi and root beer,” Karisa wrote on Facebook.
The family had dinner together and sat around with their family.
Usually, the kids all took turns telling a story, but this time it was Karisa and Jim who decided to tell a very special story to their kids insted: their love story.
“This has sure been a roller coaster of a ride, but I can’t imagine anyone else better to experience the ups and downs with,” Karisa wrote to Jim.
I love you sweetheart.
8 years ago I made a life changing commitment to you and I would do it again and again.
Thank you for being my eternal companion.”
On April 7, 2018, Jim and Karisa — at age 31 and 29 respectively — were driving home from a family outing with their five kids when another driver lost control of a Chevrolet Tahoe and struck the family’s Suburban head-on.
Jim and Karisa both died in the crash, along with their two-month-old daughter, Julieanna.
Their other four kids, Angela, 8, Zachary, 5, Wyatt, 4, and Nicholas, 2, were rushed to the hospital.
While Nicholas was treated and released, his siblings Wyatt, Zachary and Angela all suffered multiple injuries.
At first, their varying prognosis were uncertain.
Finally, Angela opened her eyes.
The children’s great aunt, Teresa Burrell, shared an incredibly powerful photo of Zachary holding Angela’s hand on a hospital bed. The photo captured the moment the siblings saw each other for the first time since the deaths of their parents and baby sister.
“I stand all amazed at the miracles which occur when we align our prayers with our Heavenly Father’s will,” Teresa wrote on Facebook. “Yesterday, we asked for you all to send a special prayer for Zachary. We have seen so many miracles with him. Yesterday, he was able to leave his bed and get into the wheelchair for the first time. He and Angie were able to see each other for the first time.
Angie has had a lot of brain injuries, but yesterday she was able to read and sing with us. Our hearts are so full of the miracles we are experiencing.
This morning Wyatt was taken out of his wheelchair and was walking towards the physical therapy room and the therapist had to stop him from trying to run. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. We feel them. Miracles are Happening!”
Then came another update about Wyatt, Zachary and Angela: “All 3 kids that are receiving medical care at Cook Children’s are now on the same rehab floor and were finally reunited a few days ago! Wyatt is doing so well. He suffered paralysis on his left side, but through PT has regained strength and movement. He can walk with a spotter, and they are having a hard time convincing him he shouldn’t be running! He is a great comfort and support to his older siblings.
Zach is struggling. He has had trouble eating and they have given him a feeding tube to make sure he is receiving adequate nutrition. He is also fighting off infection, and as a result has had a high fever for the past few days. He is in a lot of pain – both physical and emotional – and is our greatest concern at this point.
Angela continues to improve. She is talking more and more each day and is able to read fluently for short stints at a time. She took her first wheelchair ride outside yesterday to check the weather and was glad to be in the sunshine….