They only turned away for a minute.
On July 27, Jon and Sue Garfield had taken three of their four children to Skipper's Seafood n' Chowder House in Provo for dinner. After, Andrea, 10, and Alyssa, 6, had asked to play in Skipper's "spacewalk" - a tentlike room with an air-cushion floor - while their parents brought the car around from behind the restaurant.Garfield said he watched his girls play for a few minutes, "feeling very lucky I had such cute kids," then he and his wife, carrying Amanda, 1 1/2, headed for the car. It was a breezy night, but a sudden strong wind slapped the couple against their car. Then Mrs. Garfield looked into the sky.
"Jon, those are our kids up there."
The microburst of wind had picked up the spacewalk and flung it 30 feet into the sky over the restaurant. It hovered for a moment, then slammed into the asphalt.
"There was silence," Mrs. Garfield said. "Then I heard Andrea moan."
The Garfields and other witnesses wrestled with layers of netting and rubber, and found Andrea.
"It wasn't until we moved Andrea that we saw Alyssa was underneath," Garfield said. "Alyssa had so much blood rushing out of her face, it didn't look like she had a face. At first, we thought she was dead. She looked dead."
Every bone in Alyssa's face was broken. She had a fractured femur, pelvis and four ribs and had "90 percent amputation" of one foot, Mrs. Garfield said. "Her little leg was twisted around like a rope."
Andrea had a severely broken back, with three crushed vertebrae.
Paramedics arrived and began work on Andrea, until they saw Alyssa. The girls' parents handed Amanda to a woman standing nearby and hurried to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center with Alyssa. The ambulance returned for Andrea, and the woman brought Amanda to the hospital.
"Alyssa's first doctor asked if someone could take over for him," Mrs. Garfield said. "Then he went in the next room and fainted."
*** This is where the tragedy ends and the miracle begins, the Garfields say.
"Alyssa is a fighter," Garfield said Wednesday. "Her body was broken, but her spirit wasn't. No other kid I know could have survived what she did."
Alyssa smiled shyly from a wheelchair in her Spanish Fork home. She was released last week from Primary Children's Medical Center, where she was taken shortly after her accident.
"We feel very blessed," Garfield said. "There have been days that were very hard, but in a lot of ways, this has been a great experience."
Alyssa's face was reconstructed. Her foot was reattached and she can stand but isn't quite ready to walk. She talks a little. Doctors say she has suffered some brain damage, but they aren't yet sure how it will affect her. They thought she would lose sight in one eye and hearing in one ear, but she probably won't.
"She's not the same little girl we had before, but she's making good progress and she's happy," Garfield said. "And what's more important than that?"
Andrea will wear a back brace for two more weeks, but she also has recovered much more than doctors thought she would. She can stand or lie down, but cannot yet bend her back to sit. She left the hospital a week after the accident.
"We feel very blessed to have strong children," Garfield said. "We had to leave Andrea at the scene, and then went to Salt Lake to be with Alyssa, because we thought she might die. Andrea never complained, and her nurses at Utah Valley said she was their best patient. When we did come to see her, she only wanted to hear about Alyssa."
The Garfields' son, Jon, 8, was supposed to be with the family at Skipper's but was allowed, at the last minute, to stay with friends.
"Jon II was very brave when they told him his sisters were hurt and he might not see us much for a while," his father said. "He stayed with family members and was a little trooper."
But Alyssa is the "miracle" child.
"Her doctors told us later they had been very pessimistic about her chances of survival," Garfield said. "We heard a nurse had said she had about a 10 percent chance. When Mrs. Garfield wheeled her down the hall at Primary Children's, another nurse said she was surprised to see Alyssa alive; she had assumed she died."
Mrs. Garfield tried hard to make sure Alyssa heard no negative comments.
"And I told her she was beautiful and was getting better every day," Mrs. Garfield said.
"Actually, she looked like the bride of Frankenstein," Garfield added.
Alyssa remembers nothing about the night she was injured but likes to brag that she and her sister were in an accident, "and I was hurt worse."
A Skipper's representative has said the company will pay the children's bills, but so far Skipper's has only paid $5,000 of each girl's hospital bill, the Garfields said. Alyssa's bill is about $100,000.
The Garfields said they do not want to sue but will if they have to.
"Lawyers have told us the girls will never be able to get insurance," Mrs. Garfield said. "We have to think about what medical needs they will have in the future."
But for now, the Garfields are just happy to be together again and to be supported by old friends and new.
"We got messages from all over the country from people who were concerned about the girls; people we had never met were praying for us," Mrs. Garfield said. "It created a very positive feeling. It was the life jacket that held us up through the hard times."
Garfield agreed. "When you have that many good people working to support you, you can't just quit and let them down. The Lord has blessed us in so many ways."
Garfield is philosophical about the accident.
"It's like the movie `It's a Wonderful Life.' It takes a tragedy to show you the goodness and strength in people. There are some lessons only a tragedy can teach."
He is optimistic about Alyssa's future.
"She has already survived the worst thing that could happen. What can hold her back now?
"She was a good student and said she wanted to be a doctor before this happened. That may not be possible now, but who knows? She is a fighter. So far, she has done lots of things that were `impossible.' If she decides she wants to be a doctor, I feel sorry for anyone who tries to tell her she can't."