FARMINGTON — Three members of the Randall family are out of the hospital a week after a car crash that Wyoming highway patrol and hospital staff say should have killed them.

"They're all doing well," said Stephanie España, the sister of the mother in the wreck. "The hospital up there is calling them walking miracles."

The crash Dec. 28 near Sheridan, Wyo., left 15-year-old Annamarie Randall's back broken in three spots. She's undergone three surgeries to fasten a plate in her back and clean away fragments of a crushed vertebra.

Jewel Randall, 13, also broke her back in three places. She now carries a metal plate to mobilize a portion of her spine.

The two girls can already stand, and they left the intensive care unit of St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Mont., on Friday.

"My girls are doing good," said their father, Tony Randall, 42. "But they still have a long road ahead of them."

He said his girls can be active like normal teenagers, but gymnastics and other high-stress sports will be too much for their backs.

The girls' 38-year-old mother, Stacy Randall, also broke her back and several ribs, bruised a lung, fractured a tibia and snapped a toe on her right foot. She is staying with her parents in Billings, Mont., until Tony Randall can drive them back to Farmington, which will likely be at the end of the month.

Tony Randall cracked the end of his femur near the knee and broke his sternum. He was released from the hospital Friday night.

The couple's 16-year-old son, Samuel Randall, was in the car, but was not injured. He is scheduled to fly back to Farmington today in time for high school on Tuesday.

Stacy Randall said the family should have died in the crash.

"It's a miracle. That's all I can say," she said. "It's a miracle."

United Pentecostal Church, the Randalls' church, will host a fundraiser for the family Saturday. Pastor Steve Carrington said the fundraiser began as a bake sale, but friends and church members began making crafts, and a woman donated a coat to sell to raise money for the family.

Stacy Randall began to cry into the phone Friday as she tried to explain how much the support means to her.

"I'm at a loss of words," she said. "I don't even know how to thank the community. ... From (the crash) on, angels have been all around us."

And on the day of the crash, she said, God was with them.

The family was driving home on Interstate 90 in the morning from Stacy Randall's parents' home in Montana, where they celebrated Christmas. The three children sat in the Dodge Caravan's back row of seats, and their father drove while their mother sat in the passenger seat.

It was windy -- but not snowy -- until the family crested a hill outside Piney Creek near Sheridan, Wyo. A car was parked on the right side of the highway. Tony Randall turned into the left lane, and they passed another parked car.

Then the blizzard struck.

The minivan began sliding in the whiteout, and Tony Randall's fight to regain control unraveled in slow motion, he said, like a science fiction film where everything is still but the actor.

He remembers thinking, "Not cool," and then everything fast-forwarded. He heard a boom.

"Then you hear moans, hurting and people like, 'Ohhh,'" he said.

They hit the back end of an empty nitrogen tanker, and Tony Randall believes the tanker lurched up and fell back onto their minivan, folding in the dashboard and steering wheel, trapping him and his wife. Wyoming State Trooper Richard Burridge said the tanker had stopped behind two cars parked in the slow lane.

Tony Randall turned his head. His unbuckled son had launched forward from the back seat upon impact and lay upside down in his mother's lap, his feet through the windshield. His father said that he looked dead and then his wife started screaming. His daughters' backs had broken when the minivan seats slammed forward, and they weren't speaking. Tony Randall was covered in blood.

Then an SUV towing a trailer hit them. Tony Randalls remembers thinking it was there to help, but then it drove away. Police have not been able to locate the driver of the SUV.

 

The girls weren't breathing. Samuel Randall, careful not to move too much, reached behind his mother and unbuckled his sisters. They began moaning, their lungs released from the pressure of the seat belts.

Then a pickup truck struck and spun the minivan. Blizzard-force winds began whipping into the folded up windshield where Samuel Randall's feet protruded. His father looked out the driver-side window and rememebers thinking, "We're going to get hit."

He told Samuel Randall to pull his feet inside. If they were hit again, he worried his son would be thrown outside.

Several more cars hit the minivan. But, Tony Randall said, the family hardly noticed because they were in so much pain.

Eventually -- he doesn't know exactly when -- people approached and offered aid. Tony Randall told them his family was hurt badly but they will be OK.

Then there were sirens. Backboards. Freezing wind. The inside of an ambulance.

"It was an ordeal," Tony Randall said Friday from his hospital bed, before he was released from St. Vincent's.

He paused to catch his breath. His chest hurt badly, he said.

"It just seemed like it took for ever," he said. "But I know it was just a matter of minutes."

IF YOU GO

What: Fundraiser to benefit Randall family

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: United Pentecostal Church, 1900 N. Fairview Ave., Farmington

More help: A Wells Fargo account in the name of “Randall donation account” is also accepting money.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.