Moving Past the Pain
"I found my wife and my two animals, and they were gone," Pete says. "And I know it was a mistake and mistakes happen every day. … You can scream, kick, cry and fight, and the circumstances are not going to change. I wish I could have said 10 more words or hugged her one more time, but I'll do that again sometime."
"Often in life, when something like this happens, we really don't know which way to go," Minister Johnson says. "I think that the first thing you have to do is look to your religious beliefs. I feel that it will get you through. My wife is still having a difficult time. However, I know that God is going to bring her through."
The first thing Minister Johnson's wife, Beverly, said to him after she heard what happened was, "I love you."
"I know he had to be hurting just like I was hurting," Beverly says.
No charges have been filed against Minister Forrest Johnson.
After thousands of volunteers searched for Garrett in the woods, the official search was called off nine days after he was reported missing. Even though there is snow on the mountains now, Kevin continues to search, trying to get closure.
Last year, before the tragedy, the family decided to forego Christmas presents and do a humanitarian project in Mexico instead. Garrett, according to his family, loved the experience most of all. This holiday season, the family will travel to Ecuador and build a school in Garrett's name.
"Garrett loved it a lot last year when we went to Mexico," Kevin says. "When we came home, he said, 'Dad, can you sell your business, and we can just go down and live in a tent and help these people all the time?' I mean, that's how much he loved it. He was looking forward to going to Ecuador to work. We never thought we'd be building a school [in his name] at this time."
In their darkest hours of grief, Hallie's parents, Sofia and Ted, knew what Hallie's last wish would be. "If Hallie had lived," says her father Ted, "I know that she would have found it in her heart to insist that we reach out to the driver and make sure she was okay."
Ted and Sofia embrace Lara. "This was an accident," says Ted. "You had the choice to drive away, which a lot of people do, or to stay and try to help her. You did everything you could. You didn't do anything wrong. We know that."
To Do Something Special by Hallie
I want to do something special this year, or even 20 years from now. I want to stand out sometime. That may be the reason I've decided to become a doctor when I'm grown. Most kids think that's stupid, even you may thinking that too as you read this. But I want to help. Anything! I can help clean up my neighborhood, wash away mean words written on walls, so no one has to be reminded of the hate that lingers in this world. I'm getting off point. Anyway, I want to help the class community, or help raise money for starving people. I want to become more active in peacemaking, and helping people make the right choices. I want to help save endangered species. I want to discover the cure for cancer, and save lives. I just hope I get the chance.
© Sofia and Ted Geier
During the last year of her life, Hallie was saving her lunch money specifically for children affected by AIDS in sub–Saharan Africa. With the saved lunch money they found in Hallie's drawer, along with contributions to their foundation, Ted and Sofia donated $10,000 to Oprah's Angel Network. "That would have made Hallie so happy," Sofia says. "In fact, it is making her happy. I know it is."