In November 2008, Shelly and her husband, Daren, were the happily married parents of three beautiful girls, 13-year-old Jessica, 9-year-old Erica and 4-year-old Valerie. "Erica is my little sunshine because she lit up the house," she says. "She was making us laugh before she was a year old."
Two days before Thanksgiving, Shelly came back from a doctor's appointment to find emergency crews on her street. "There were all these people and a child lying on the ground," she says. "I had no idea it was my daughter."
Shelly remembers that tragic day
Daren says Erica was riding her bike home from school. "Erica was just around the corner from our house," he says. "She was 30 seconds from being home safely."
Erica had been hit head-on by a 5,000-pound SUV. Police say that the driver had recently finished a phone call at the time of the accident. "The driver said: 'I'm so sorry. I didn't see her,'" Shelly says. "I felt badly for the driver because I thought: 'Oh, she's unconscious. She's going to be okay.' ... And they started cutting my daughter's clothes off and it was hitting me this is very, very, very serious."
Erica was rushed to the local children's hospital, then airlifted to another facility. "The neurosurgeon made it very clear she was going to die," Shelly says. "I spent the night with her that night. I held her. Cried. I kissed her. I sang to her. I just needed to have time with my girl."