On July 4th, 2008 our family of 11 was struck by a drunk driver as we headed home from a fun-filled evening at the Star-lite Drive-In

by Jamie Wohlgemuth
Our family is a bit unique because we have nine children ranging from age ten to five. Our children have come to our family both the old fashioned way and through the miracle of adoption. They are undoubtedly precious gifts from God that we cherish dearly.
At the drive-in, I clearly remember the children's excitement about watching fireworks in the distant night sky. We snuggled with one another on the air mattresses we brought and were pretty gooey from the many bags of cotton candy that were devoured. Giggles, snuggles, sticky kisses....what more could a Mom ask for? Of course, many of the children fell asleep and had to be tucked into their seats by their Dad. As always, we made sure everyone was secure in their car seat or seat belt--a decision that ultimately saved all nine of their little lives.
As we were driving home on K-42, a full-sized pickup pulled out in front of us and turned into us hitting us head-on. The impact was like nothing I've ever felt before I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move. The pain was excruciating. Then I could hear my children screaming.
I cannot begin to describe the terror of that moment, not knowing what I would find when I eventually forced myself to turn around. Trey had a broken nose and blood was everywhere. AubreyAnna was screaming because her back hurt. Most of the children were stunned by the impact and in shock from the trauma. Fortunately for us, God sent angels in the form of off-duty EMT's who were there immediately as the crash took place.
 The police and ambulances arrived quickly and began the arduous task of removing each child from the mangled SUV. Watching as my family was lined up on spine boards along the highway is seared into my memory. An officer was amazed that there were no fatalities that night. He credited this to the fact that safety belts and carseats were properly used. The driver of the truck, we later discovered, was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected from his vehicle. He lost an arm and suffered severe injuries.
Although we incurred some serious injuries from this incident and are still, more than a year later, dealing with the physical ramifications of someone else's decision to drive drunk, we are all here to support one another through it. I cannot and will not think of the alternative outcome had we all not been properly secured in the vehicle. My family is whole and wholeheartedly encourages others to please buckle-up and drive responsibly.

Jamie Wohlgemuth and her family reside in Milton.

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