Harvey Brinkley, a longtime emergency medical technician, is all too familiar with the scene at the kind of accidents that killed his grandson and his daughter-in-law and injured his son.
So, when he and his family passed the wreckage of his son's car Sunday afternoon on their way to the hospital where police had summoned them, Brinkley realized something was drastically wrong."When we saw the car we knew we'd lost at least part of the family," he said. "I knew we had an echo," he added, employing the code EMTs use to indicate a fatality.
The wreck occurred at the intersection of 36th West and 41st South about 4 p.m., when a vehicle driven by Johnny Gabron, 35, Magna, and the car driven by Brinkley's son collided, West Valley police officials said.
The collision killed Janice Brinkley, 25, and her 2-month-old son, Nicholas. Duane Brinkley, who was driving the family's car and is the boy's father, was in serious condition Tuesday in LDS hospital.
"Everything was just going great for them. They were happy; the new baby just seemed to be a real sound bond between them. Of course, it's over with now," Brinkley said.
Shawn, the Brinkleys' 4-year-old son, was unhurt in the accident, which badly smashed the Brinkleys' car and caused another vehicle to roll. He played on the floor of his grandparent's house where sympathetic neighbors gathered Monday night.
"We were in an accident yesterday," he volunteered. "We were going to pay bills," he said. His grandfather speculated they were on their way to a bank when the tragedy struck.
When the accident occurred, Shawn was wearing a seat belt in the back seat next to his brother, who he said was in a child-restraining seat. He recounted the accident in simple clarity, saying he was scared "only when it (the other vehicle) got the passenger side."
A counselor instructed Shawn's grandparents to encourage him to talk about the incident, and the Brinkleys wasted no time in explaining what had happened to his mother and small brother.
"When I told him his mother wasn't coming back, that she'd gone to heaven and that Nicholas had gone with her and that he wouldn't see them ever again, he just totally broke down," Brinkley said.
But all things considered, the boy has borne the tragedy well, Brinkley said. He has accepted the fate of his mother and brother and has seen his father lying in a hospital bed with intravenous tubes in his body.
Brinkley's son Duane, also a part-time EMT, remains in LDS Hospital with massive head injuries. Doctors say it will be several weeks before they know if Duane will survive his injuries, Brinkley said.
"At this point, we don't know, it's in the hands of the Lord," Brinkley said.
Meanwhile, Shawn will stay with the Brinkleys and his maternal grandparents, Brinkley said.
Gabron was thrown from his vehicle in the accident. He was treated and released from Pioneer Valley Hospital on Sunday, a spokeswoman said.