Susie, Don and Lisa Cerak

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Back at the hospital, Laura's parents, Don and Susie, and her sister, Lisa, are told what to expect when they see Laura for the first time. "Not to expect her to look like herself," Susie says. "That she's been through a difficult thing." When Don first saw the girl he was told to be Laura, he says he could only see part of her face. "She had the bandages around and tubes in her mouth, a tube in her head, some cuts and bruises—they hadn't really cleaned her up yet from the accident."

At this point, Lisa says the family was given the purse and pair of shoes found nearby after the accident. While the purse contained Laura's school wallet, the shoes gave Lisa the first hint that something wasn't right. "We didn't recognize the shoes, but didn't really give it a second thought, thinking she probably borrowed a roommate's shoes."

With no other reason to believe the girl in the hospital wasn't their daughter, the Van Ryns started a vigil with family and friends that lasted for five weeks. Don says the family took turns at the hospital so that someone was always by her side.