After his devout Christian parents were killed in a horrific car crash, a 23-year-old Texas man is now raising his six very young siblings who survived.
Ethan Owen says he is still trying to come to terms with his new role as guardian, as hundreds of people pour in donations to help his family.
“I have absolutely no idea,” the man, Ethan Owen, told WFAA8 on Monday when asked how he planned to survive with his siblings in the wake of the death of his parents.
Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers said in an East Texas Matters report that the parents, Michael Scott Owen, 52, his wife, Jennifer Owen, 47, and six of their children were traveling in their Chevrolet Tahoe towing a trailer when their vehicle side-swiped a Ford pickup on a local highway. The Tahoe reportedly veered off the road into a bar-ditch and rolled onto its top and was partially submerged in a creek.
Their daughter Michaela (15) remains in critical condition at a Dallas hospital. Their son Dalton (10) also remains in critical condition in the room next to his big sister. Mitchell (13), Alysa (11), Samantha (7) and Liam (5) miraculously survived the crash with broken bones, concussions, cuts and bruises. They are being cared for friends and neighbors.
All six of their children who were traveling with them survived but the devout couple who loved spending time with their children and took them just about everywhere with them did not.
“This is that family that spends time with their kids … they were camping with their kids,” the late couple’s Pastor, Craig Curry of First Baptist Church of Plano, told WFAA8. Scott played guitar for the church service and Jennifer did sign language interpretation, he added.
Sitting in his parents’ favorite pew inside the church, Ethan explained that when he first learned that his parents had died in the crash: “It was like someone tearing out my heart. It hurt a lot.”
Despite his pain, Pastor Curry said the 23 year old has been working hard at being strong for his family.
Ethan says he was at work when he got the tough news of the crash from his grandmother. The next moment, as the only family member of legal age, he was deciding on emergency surgery for his brother and the next moment learning that his mom and dad did not make it.
“He was showing a lot of strength through all that. I don’t know how he was still upright,” Curry said.
His brother Dalton and sister Michaela are no longer in serious condition. They are both beginning to communicate. Ethan is aware that their recovery will take a very long time.
“We prayed to God for that and we believe in the power of prayer. And we continue to pray,” said Pastor Curry.
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On Sunday, however, Ethan called his late mother’s phone to wish her a happy Mother’s Day even though he knew she wouldn’t pick up.
“I said, ‘I love you. I miss you very much and Happy Mother’s Day,'” he recalled of the message.
A GoFundMe campaign established to help the family has raised more than $130,000 of a $250,000 goal from more than 1,200 people as of Wednesday evening.
“My heart breaks for you and I am spreading the word to raise support, prayers, and encouragement for you. We do not know each other but that does not matter. I am a mom of three, with a son not far from your age. I will be on my knees praying for you and if you have family or a pastor who I can connect with to keep up to date with your needs as time goes on, please have them reach out to me,” donor Diane Henderson wrote on the campaign page Wednesday.
Ethan’s grandmother and other family members are expected to help him with his siblings, but he told WFAA8 that he will have to sign legal papers to relinquish guardianship.
Ethan says the support he has received from his family and church have been incredible. He says the only reason he gets by day-to-day is because of the family and friends who continue to help him and his six siblings.
He currently works at Outback Steakhouse in Garland where he works two to three shifts weekly. His colleagues recently donated 100 percent of tips they earned on one busy day.
The GoFundMe page message includes the words of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”