Kearney dad returns to spot of post-Christmas icy I-70 crash that killed wife and daughters

LIBERTY, Mo. -- A Missouri 16-year-old was killed and three others were injured Thursday in an icy crash on Interstate 70 in western Kansas.

It's a scene similar to one just a year ago near Abilene, Kansas. But that day all four inside the vehicle were killed, including Brandon Luft's wife and two daughters. This year, he returned to the scene to remember and honor them.

Brandon Luft

Thousands gathered at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Liberty on Dec. 27, 2017, to remember 18-year-old Saleena Senzee, 47-year-old Lisa Luft and her daughters, 20-year-old Brianna and 14-year-old Aria.

It's the same church where Brandon Luft has found the path forward from what he witnessed that day in his rearview mirror.

“That spot there, a mile west of the off ramp of Abilene where the accident happen, that’s the spot that changed my life," Luft said.

The Luft family, which included two daughters, four sons and their friend Senzee, were on their way to Colorado to see relatives.

Lisa Luft, center, and her daughters, Aria and Brianna

"The boys were in the van, and the girls were in the truck," Luft said.

As Brandon Luft went over an icy I-70 bridge with his wife Lisa following behind in a truck, he happened to look back in his rearview mirror.

“It launched and it kind of moved to the right, and it was turning like this and it went out of my sight. And that’s where I pretty much figured it was going to be like it was," Luft said of his wife's truck.

He threw his van in reverse and raced down the embankment to the crushed truck. After realizing there was nothing he could do, he ran back up the hill to put his arms around his boys and pray.

“I remember telling the boys, 'God is going to work miracles through this,'" he said.

Four crosses now mark the spot of the fatal crash. Ornaments also hang on the tree at their church in their honor.

“For Aria, it says keep singing His praises because she sang in the church band here," Luft explained.

While most focus on his loss, Luft likes to look back on what he’s gained. He now knows how much his wife and daughters meant to their friends and how far people are willing go to help others. He said it was September before he had to even go grocery shopping for him and his sons.

"People have been constantly checking on us, bringing us over food, bringing us this, doing things at the house, just helping out with the kids. It’s beautiful," he said.

He returned to Colorado this Christmas to see his in-laws. He met Senzee's mother and others at the spot alongside the highway the morning of Dec. 26. They then returned to Kearney for a ceremony attended by hundreds.

A year later, Luft said he’s at peace.

“There will always be a sense of pain and sorrow. I do think about them non-stop. But I have the joy of knowing they were women of faith, and they are with Jesus today, and the impact they made on this Earth was huge," Luft said.

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