Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thank You, Everyone

On behalf of our entire family we want to express our gratitude for the kindness, respect, and honor in handling the passing of our beloved Lee, my dad. We have been amazed at the tremendous out pour of compassion and support from this community. The community he so loved to serve.

This entire community brought comfort to our family in a range of ways too difficult to count, but easy to appreciate. The tribute from the County honor Guard and Road Crew were wonderful and our hearts are full. Thank you to all who braved the cold and lined the streets for the procession. We are grateful to all.

To have so many people come and express their love of Lee had helped get us through this hard time. Every hug, every tear, every hand that we shake, and every story or memory told brings us a measure of comfort. We wish there were words to express how we feel.

From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you!


The Lee Lewis Family


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


January 9th started out like any other Wednesday. I woke up and got the kids off to school. My oldest son, Seth kept asking if I would call Grandpa and ask him if he would take him swimming again. I promised him we would call after school when Grandpa is home from work. After some persuasion, we got Seth into the car and to school as well.

When I came back, Riot wanted to eat and then play instead of his usual morning routine. After his breakfast I bathed him and sat down to get him down for a nap. He fell asleep instantly while we watched a movie. At a little after !0"00 am, all of a sudden I heard a ton of sirens, cop cars, fire engines, and what not. This is a small town and this many sirens wasn't usual. It meant something horrible had happened. Normally I would have been on Facebook by now asking if anyone knew what was going on, but this time I had a feeling not to.

I gently put him on the couch and started cleaning the house. By the time I got around to mopping at a few minutes after 11:00, my husband walked in the kitchen door. He was talking on his cell phone. I didn't think much about it, he makes phone calls on his lunch break often, I kept at my chore. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed he was walking toward me slowly. He kept saying to the person on the phone, "Are you sure? That is not good."

I stopped mopping and looked up at him. He stopped on the bottom step and looked back at me, his face ashen. "No, she doesn't know. Bye."

My heart is pounding at this point. See, my Grandma has stage 5 breast cancer and I thought he was going to tell me that she might have been taken to the hospital or worse.

Jess walked slowly toward me and took the mop out of my hand. He told me to sit down.

"Is it grandma?" I asked.

"No." Jess put his hands on my shoulders. I instantly thought, "please don't be my Uncle Todd." (He has been having trouble with his kidneys). Jess' eyes filled with tears and he took a deep breath. "Lace, it's your dad. He's been in an accident. He's gone."

The room spun. I didn't understand what he was saying.

"What?! How what happened?" I couldn't breathe. My legs began to turn to rubber.

"He was hit by a train, I don't know anything else, but he is gone." His voice a careful whisper.

Heat flooded my head. Pain shot across every inch of my body. I heard screaming, an eerie horrible screaming. It was me. Jess was holding on to me, I wasn't standing on my own. Finally we both collapsed to the floor.

A few seconds that felt like hours, I pried myself out of Jessie's arms and ran up to my phone.
 I had to call my dad, it wasn't him. My fingers stumbled at the numbers, I couldn't hit the right ones. Finally, I dialed dad's number and heard it ring and ring and ring and ring. He didn't answer.

Our home phone started ringing. Jess answered and I could hear what he was saying, all I could hear was more screams, my screams. My hand seemed to act on its own and dialed dispatch.
"This is Lee Lewis' daughter, Laci. Please tell me that wasn't my dad in the train wreck?"

The dispatcher calmly told me they didn't know. All they knew is it was a County truck involved and couldn't tell me anymore. He asked for my contact info and we hung up.

No this was the stupid thing I did, I got on Facebook. I found a ton of posts talking about this train wreck in Dayton, Idaho. the driver was killed. He might be Lee Lewis. The pictures were horrible. Train cars mangled, twisted in the rails. Parts of this red dump truck, parts! It looked like a bomb had hit the train and truck.

I lost it! My stomach contents came up and I ran for the bathroom.

I called my older sister and told her what had just happened and that we needed to tell Mom. Luckily,  she was passing through the town where my mom worked and turned to go tell her.

My hand dialed another number right after I hung up with my sister, the County Sheds where my dad works.When they answered, I asked what was going on. They told me they knew it was a county truck and driver. They had located everyone and their trucks but my dads. I have no idea what was said after that except I kept asking if my dad was alive. The sweet man on the phone, paused and couldn't tell me. I mean, who wants to tell a girl their dad has died. He just told me I needed to find my mom and get my family together. Wait and someone would come talk to us. (Let me get this clear. Everyone I talked to was very kind and only trying to inform me on what they could with facts. They didn't want to say something and have it be wrong.) 

I called my sister who was 8 months pregnant at work and found out she was on her way to me. When she pulled in the driveway, I ran out to her and we held on to each other crying, falling to the ground. My husband came out and helped us into the house. My brother came over at the moment as well. All of us huddled together and cried. The person who had called my husband came to the door and wanted to make sure I was alright. He was a long time family friend and one of my dad's best friends.

During this time, my older sister had got my mom and told us to meet at my parents house, that the sheriff was on his way over to talk to us. I called my dad's brother and sister to let them know.

Everything blurred together, seconds felt like hours, days almost. My mom pulled in the driveway a little before 1:00 pm and all of us kids went out to meet her. She looked scared, but told us she had been told they didn't know if it was Dad. It could have been any of the other workers. They are just trying to prepare us if it was Dad.

Hope..... This gave us hope, even after all I had just been told. What my was told gave us all HOPE.

We sat in my parents living room, waiting. Waiting to hear anything. My sisters got on Facebook again and saw videos of the after math of the wreck. It was saying the driver had died. Silence crept in. The only thing we could hear was our cries and a train whistle off in the distance. It blew its whistle over and over and over.

At 3:30 pm, we were told the driver was for sure Lee. The Sheriff would be on his way to confirm if he had died or not. My poor mom cried so heartbroken. They were soul mates, the true definition of soul mates. They'd been together since Jr. High. They were each others lives, dad was our lives as well. A day didn't go by that I didn't see or talk to my dad. We were close. He was my husbands best friend as well. They did everything together. you didn't know that my husband, Jess, was Dad's son in law. Jess considered my dad his dad. When Jess and I would double date, it was my parents were would go out with. They are our best friends. Now he's gone. Gone in a split second.

5:30 pm, the Sheriff came over and confirmed Dad had passed away. The mortuary strongly encouraged us to not come see Dad's body. Our family decided not to view him as you could understand, we wanted to remember Lee as the amazing man of steel that we knew him.

The County honored him by lowering the flags at the court house and Police station to half mass. They also did an Honor Guard as well as a motor pergade in the percession to the cemetery. His friends, The Bar J Wranglers sang at his funral. His daughters and son talked as well as a good friend. He was honored to the fullest as he deserved.

As I have said before, I am truly honored to say that Lee Lewis is my dad.