SPRING HILL, Kan. — Months after a crash nearly claimed Tim Abbot’s life, his family is facing another tragedy.
Abbott was injured in a crash involving a church van in Bolivar, Missouri, back in August. Three teenagers died. Five months later, Abbott and his family are in shock again. His wife, Rachel, died suddenly on Dec. 30.
Abbott said God’s plan doesn’t always make sense at first.
“I don’t remember us flipping around,” Abbott said. “I don’t remember the rolls. I don’t remember the crash. I don’t have any memory of that.”
Abbott accompanied a group of teens on a float trip from Faith Chapel Assembly of God in Overland Park on Aug. 10.
The Missouri Highway Patrol said 13 teens and adult chaperones were in the van when it crashed north of Bolivar. A tire blew on the van, pushing it off the side of the road. The highway patrol said the van crashed around 11 a.m. It went off of southbound Highway 13, overturned and hit a tree.
“The van did a 180 and then started rolling down a ravine, and then crashed into a tree,” Abbott said. “The van was upright, so I was hanging out the passenger side.”
The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the victims as 14-year-old Hannah Foy, of Louisburg, 16-year-old David Martin, of Olathe, and 17-year-old Samara Bayse, of Stilwell.
Three others, including Abbott, were seriously injured, and seven others were hurt. Abbott had traumatic brain injury and broke his neck, ribs and wrist. He also tore his rotator cuff, bicep tendon, and rear delt and his left retina, causing partial blindness.
As Tim recovered, Rachel, his wife of 12 years, took care of him along with their three children. She drove the kids to school and took Abbott to all of his doctor and therapy appointments.
“We got to spend a lot of time together, so it was a blessing in disguise,” Abbott said.
Until one morning she was gone.
“Why her and not me?” Abbott asked. “I had an accident just five months ago. Why couldn’t you spare the teens and take me instead?”
Rachel started experiencing what they thought was sinus pain. She had a similar incident back in 2016. However, this time, in a matter of hours she went into paralysis and died.
Doctors think it might have been a brain aneurysm.
“Maybe that`s why God spared me,” Abbott said. “He didn’t want to have two kids without their parents. Maybe that’s why I’m not paralyzed. Maybe that’s why I lived, and why I continue to get stronger, and why it happened at this time.”
Rachel’s sister, Mary Rokicki, said they always called her their angel. Rachel was the youngest of five children.
“I know it’s part of God’s plan, but I don’t know what that is yet,” Rokicki said.
Rachel was an organ and tissue donor, and she was able to help six people after her death — including through the gift of her heart.
“It would be nice to know how is her life helping and benefitting others,” Abbott said.
“Her heart still beats on,” Rokicki said. “She’s not here, and that’s such an amazing gift that she gave, but it brings some comfort that her heart is still going.”
Abbott is still unable to work or drive and doesn’t know when doctors will clear him for either. He’s going through intense physical therapy and still waiting for his neck to heal from the break. He’s taking care of their three children with the help of family and friends.
If you would like to help the Abbott family, you can do so in a few ways.
There is a GoFundMe set up for them, or you can send a check to Faith Chapel Assembly of God at 15000 Newton Drive, Overland Park, KS 66223 with the funds earmarked for Tim Abbott. There’s also a Timothy J. Abbott Benefit Account at First Option Bank at 21101 W. 223rd St. in Spring Hill, and donations can be deposited to the account.