KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eighteen-year-old Colin Theis bought a truck from an Independence family about a month after 5-year-old Kai-Lynn McMullin passed away in a fire. The little girl's death ended the dream of restoring the truck with her stepdad, but Theis has plans to see their vision through.
“I just felt like I had to do it, how he was going to with his little girl,” said Theis.
Michael Turner, Kai-Lynn’s stepdad, bought the truck about a month before the fatal Independence house fire.
“I wanted to buy something that Kai-Lynn could have eventually and we can make it hers,” Turner said about the truck.
He described what happened when Kai-Lynn died.
“I was woken up by my daughter screaming,” Turner said. “I couldn`t get to her, so I ended up busting out windows and going around the house and coming back in with the help of a couple neighbors.”
Turner said she wanted to name the truck "Dixie".
“She kept calling it the big monster truck,” added Turner.
And they were going to fix it up, and paint it orange and black.
“After the fire and we lost our daughter, the truck was just sitting in the driveway, and I would come home from work and I would see it, and it would hurt to see it every day,” Turner described.
Turner posted it online for sale, and Theis seemed very interested, who heard the whole story about the truck.
“He kind of broke down when he was telling me,” Theis recalled.
“Once he told me the full story on what he was going to do with it, and his daughter, instead of building it how we were going to, we started to rebuild it in honor of her and keep the same colors she picked and the same name for the truck.”
Theis said the truck needed a lot of work. He had to go to court to deal with issues with the title among other things, and had issues with some dishonest auto shops.
He says M-D automotive helped them get a motor and get it running. Now they`re working on getting the exterior fixed up, like getting rust off, paint it black and orange like she wanted.
“Out of everything, just him to keep his word to me, and actually honor my daughter with that truck, means the world to me,” Turner said.
Theis even requested a custom tag that says "Dixie" at the DMV.
“The day before, actually, the person who had the tag that said DIXIE, returned it so we were able to get that tag,” Theis said.
He thinks it might be a sign from Kai-Lynn.
“I thought it was just meant to be,” Theis said.
Theis says he`s going to continue working on the truck until Dixie looks and runs right. Turner and Theis still stay in touch with the progress, and are planning to get together this Friday to take Dixie for a drive.