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What does Whitney think of the Van Ryns? "I love getting asked this question," she says. "I love the Van Ryns, love them to death. They took great care of me, and they can still look me in the eye and be like, 'Whitney, I love you.' ... They're amazing people, all of them."

Both the Van Ryn and Cerak families say their faith in God was integral to getting through this ordeal. "I know there are other people that have asked, 'How come you're not upset? How come you're not bitter?'" Newell says. "I know it's because of the forgiveness that we have experienced through our relationship and our faith."

When Don was in the hospital in the first days after the accident, he received a call on his cell phone from a lawyer who said he was from a firm that specialized in truck and automobile accidents. "I was shocked. I mean, I didn't know exactly how to react," he says. "But ultimately I said, 'I hope you find something better to do with your day,' and hung up."

Don says his family was not interested in filing a lawsuit then or now. "I just didn't see what that would gain for us. Over the years, I've learned that forgiveness and love is healthier than bitterness and vengeance," he says. "One of my favorite verses in the Bible says, 'What has the Lord required of you? To act justly. To love mercy. And to walk humbly with your God.' That one phrase—'to love mercy'—you don't see a lot of that today."
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FROM: The Families Behind the Heartbreaking Mistaken Identity Case
Published on January 01, 2006

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