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While the Van Ryns were called to the hospital, the Ceraks were receiving very different news. Whitney's mother, Colleen, says the first call she received was from her daughter, Carly. "She said, 'There's been an accident, and we don't know if Whitney's been in the van. Just pray.'"

Colleen says she was home alone because Carly was away at college and Whitney's father, Newell, was on a trip to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Colleen says she had a few family friends come over while she waited for word on her daughter. "We did get a phone call from Grant County Coroner and chaplain saying that Whitney was one of the girls that didn't make it in the accident," she says. "It was just one of those phone calls that you think other people are going to get, but you're never going to get it yourself. You just dread that moment."

Colleen then had her own awful phone call to make to let Newell know what happened to their daughter. "I was waiting for the phone call," Newell says. "When the phone rang she just said, 'Newell, I'm so sorry.' I just fell to my knees and started crying."
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FROM: The Families Behind the Heartbreaking Mistaken Identity Case
Published on January 01, 2006

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