May 8, 2012 10:30 PM by Ariel Wesler, KSBY News

Mother, children in deadly Buellton crash give first interview on TODAY

Back in January, a big rig crashed into their car, trapping a Southern California mother and her two children inside as it hung on the edge over a bridge in Buellton.

An 18-wheeler had smashed into their car, killing the big rig driver and leaving the family dangling more than 100 feet off the ground for more than two hours.

Kelli Groves was in the car with her daughters, Sage, 10, and 10-week-old baby Mylo.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Groves said she had hoped to one day to say thank you in person to the people responsible for saving their lives.

Little did she know it would be Tuesday morning in front of a national audience.

Nearly four months ago, the life of Kelli Groves and her two children rested on rescue crews as their BMW hung over a Buellton bridge. She never go to say thank you face to face until now.

Back in Buellton, CHP officers watched as Groves gave her first interview since the deadly crash.

"I was happy to see the 10-year-old girl smiling. She looks healthy. The baby looked healthy, and the mom looked great," said CHP Investigating Officer Bryan Rhodes.

The rescue might have gone much differently if it weren't for some Navy Seabees. They happened to be driving by with the right piece of equipment needed to stabilize the car. At the time, Groves didn't even know if her 10-year-old daughter was still alive.

"All I saw was a small patch of her hair smashed through the metal debris, and I started tapping her head calling out to her, Sage, answer me, and she wouldn't answer me, and she wasn't moving," Groves said.

"The impact of the trailer rolling over, it actually rolled over on top of her, so she was really pinned down in that seat," Rhodes said.

With the mom's feet hanging out of the car and the family's lives hanging in the balance, all they could do was wait for a miracle.

"I don't know if it was luck, if it was God, whatever it was, it was a good thing," Rhodes said.

One person that was not mentioned during the TODAY Show interview was the truck driver who was killed, Charles Allison Junior,48.

A toxicology report revealed he was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash.

Sage, 10, suffered a broken pelvis while baby Mylo only had a cut on her head, thanks to her car seat.

Groves suffered a fractured pelvis and is undergoing physical therapy with her 10-year-old daughter.


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