BRIGHTON, Colo. — The mother of a 2-year-old girl who was captured in a photo in the arms of a Brighton police officer after an accident left her three other children injured and her husband dead has spoken for the first time since the crash.
Stephanie Greer told the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star that she is grateful for the outpouring of support and to Brighton police officer Nick Struck after the rollover accident on Interstate 76 on June 18.
She said one son is on life-support machines and two other children suffered multiple fractures. Greer’s 2-year-old daughter escaped without injury and was comforted at the scene by Struck, who was holding the gasoline-soaked girl and distracting her from the accident by singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
Greer hopes to be in contact with Struck.
“I want to say thanks,” she told the Journal Star.
Greer and her husband, Carlos Torres, were in the process of moving from Peoria to Colorado for better job opportunities. The couple married in 2012 and have four children: Zayden, 4; Sophia, 3; Sirena, 2; and Cruz, 4 months.
Greer told the Journal Star that was driving on Interstate 76 near E-470 when a tire blew about 9:30 a.m. She lost control of the Dodge Durango and with a semitrailer in the right lane, she turned the wheel to the left, going into a wide, grassy median.
“I eased the brakes slowly,” Greer told the Journal Star. “But we were on three tires. I had no control.”
The unbuckled Torres, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was thrown out of the open passenger window. He was declared dead at the scene.
Greer was also tossed from the vehicle, which stopped upside-down on top of one of her legs. After Greer was freed, medical personnel tended to Torres and the children.
Unhurt Sirena was pulled from the vehicle and handed to Struck.
“She was crying,” Struck said this week. “She was soaked in gasoline from the truck. The smells were awful.”
Trying to distract the crying girl from the accident, Struck began to sing to her.
“My daughter, who’s the sweetest thing in the world when she falls down and cries, wants ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ sung to her,” Struck said. “So (to) this girl, I was singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and pointing to the lights in the fire truck.”
A passing motorist snapped a photo of the scene and it has been seen worldwide.
“If he hadn’t preoccupied her, she would’ve seen her dad die,” Greer said.
Greer told the Journal Star the ligaments and tendons in her legs were torn apart. Sophia’s collarbone snapped. Cruz suffered fractures to both legs and his pelvis. And Zayden suffered bone fractures and a severe brain injury.
Greer’s mother arrived from Illinois to help and the family is staying with Torres’ boss.
A fund has been established to help with the family’s costs.