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SALT LAKE CITY -- A car crash that devastated an American Fork family on their way to Thanksgiving dinner seems to have touched a chord throughout the nation.
Stuart Lewis and his teenage daughter KaraLee died near Tabiona Thursday. His wife and two other children were injured.
There are people from all over the country who are hearing the news and are calling to share their stories. You never realize how many lives a person touches until something like this happens.
What is extraordinary is the way this accident has touched people far more than the typical car crash.
Part of the reason is the thought of a large but close-knit family devastated on a holiday that's all about giving thanks.
Members of two extended families have been crowding into Primary Children's Medical Center for days. "From the Makin family, from the Lewis family, everybody has been here," said Lewis family spokesman Valdon Lewis, who is Stuart Lewis' brother.
Stuart Lewis and his wife, Trudy Makin Lewis, were taking three of their children to a huge family gathering Thursday. The Lewis clan rented the Tabiona Town Hall for Thanksgiving dinner to accommodate 50 to 75 family members.
Sadly, disaster struck just three or four miles away when KaraLee, 18, steered the family car into the path of a semi.
"Many members of the family were converging on the same intersection at the same time," said Valdon Lewis.
Stuart and KaraLee died at the scene. Trudy suffered hip fractures and was taken to the University of Utah Hospital.
Fifteen-year-old James Andrew and 11-year-old Abigail were also badly hurt. They were both flown to Primary Children's Medical Center.
Now, Trudy is trying to heal from physical wounds as well as the emotional pain brought on by the deaths of her husband and daughter. Since the accident, Trudy has been overwhelmed with calls of support from around the country.
"The biggest thing that's helping her to deal with all of this is the love and the support, the contacts that have been made since the accident," said Valdon Lewis. "You never realize how many lives a person touches until something like this happens."
Abigail has been released from the hospital, and though James Andrew remains in intensive care, relatives say he's making progress.
"He's still in critical condition, but there's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel as far as his recovery," said Valdon Lewis.
Now, with the breadwinner gone, there's a lot of worry about finances. Relatives don't know if insurance will cover the medical bills.
"It's definitely questionable," said Valdon Lewis. "There's going to be extensive bills, given especially James Andrew's injuries."
The family has set up a fund* at the Bank of American Fork in the name of Trudy Makin Lewis. They say one good thing about the tragedy is that it brought the Makin and Lewis families even closer together
*ksl.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does ksl.com assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.