LITTLETON, Colo. — A family of five from Colorado is sharing their story of survival after they were injured in a horrific wrong-way crash during a Labor Day weekend trip in Washington state.
Yoichi "Forest" and Tomo Mori are the founders of Japanese Hope Mountain Family church, currently located in Englewood.
They flew to Washington with their three children, Kishin, Inori, and Sambi, to assist with worship services at their sister church, Lynnwood Japanese Family Church, located in Edmonds, Wash.
The Mori family said they were driving to the airport in Seattle on the morning of Sept. 4 to get on their flight back to Colorado, when a suspected DUI driver drove the wrong way on Interstate 5 and collided with the family's car head-on.
All five family members were transported to hospital.
Kishin, the youngest of the family and a sophomore in high school at Denver Christian School, suffered the most injuries, according to the family. He went into immediate surgery to repair his stomach, intestines, and lung. He also has a broken leg and broken shoulder.
Their mother, Tomo, is the next most significantly injured. She went into immediate surgery for internal damage to her intestines. She also has damage to her spinal cord, according to the family.
Inori, a nursing student at Colorado Christian University, sustained head injuries including a fractured nose, several broken ribs, and damaged her tail bone. Her right ankle is also sprained, which is making it very difficult for her to walk.
"For me, what I remember, I just woke up after the car stopped moving," said Inori. "I remember everyone being chaotic. My sister was panicking, my dad was looking for his phone to call 911, to call people so we could get help."
Sambi, a second year student at Regis University, said she has a fractured spine, several lacerations, and an elevated heart rate.
They said they barely missed getting hit by a semi-truck driving behind them, which they credit for saving their lives.
"We found out later the semi-truck — the driver — actually drove the truck into the wall so that he would avoid going into us and causing a sandwich. Which is good cause if he would have hit us we probably would have died," said Inori.
Their father, Yoichi "Forest," was behind the wheel at the time of the crash. He has injuries to his back and head.
Seattle Police said the female driver, suspected of driving under the influence, is in custody.
"We only know that she was in worse condition than any of us, we know that she’s alive, which is good," said Inori, who added they have no ill-will towards her and hope she makes a full recovery. "We pray that she doesn’t repeat the same thing and that this could be a turning point, changing point in her life."
The family said they are counting their blessings and expressing gratitude for all who have supported them, as they are now awaiting their return to Colorado.
"All over the country and the world people have been reaching out and telling us that they're praying for us and supporting us in many different ways," said Sambi. "That’s been such a huge comfort for us."
A GoFundMe fundraiser has already raised more than $100,000 to support the family.