SPRINGFIELD — The Thelin Family of Springfield is counting their blessings and hoping to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving after an impaired driver ran a stop sign, T-boning a vehicle driven by Elizabeth Thelin Young (25) of Pocatello. Passengers in the car were Elizabeth's 18-month-old daughter Esabella; her sister Crystal Thelin (22) and Crystal's boyfriend Derek Bilancia (23) who were visiting from Oregon. The accident occurred on Sunday around 3 p.m. just shy of the railroad tracks crossing Highway 39 - just a few minutes away from their destination of parents Brian and Angelina [Thelin] of Springfield.
Idaho State Police Captain Eric Dayley confirmed that Ashley Dickerson (24) of Arco hit the Chevy Lumina driven by Elizabeth with a Jeep after running a stop sign. The impact of the hit spun both vehicles and completely totaled the Lumina.
Dickerson, who had a male passenger with her, was taken to jail and cited with DUI, failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to show proof of insurance.
While there were no serious injuries in the accident, the family said it was a "close call" and a series of events that they attribute to the grace of guardian angels prevented the accident from being much worse.
Crystal, who was sitting in the back seat with the infant, said that just seconds before the accident she had leaned over to tend the baby, shielding her eyes from the sun.
"Had I not been leaning over to protect the baby's eyes from the sun, I would've taken the full impact of the hit," Crystal said.
Esabella was properly restrained in an infant car seat, facing forward.
"When the car stopped moving, everyone's immediate thoughts were "is the baby OK?' " said Elizabeth. "Sometimes I will buckle her [Esabella] in - facing backwards, but I'm so thankful she was facing forward this time or she would've gotten a face full of glass."
"In retrospect, I'm glad that we were hit and that things worked out the way they did. We were all wearing seat belts and have only minor injuries," Elizabeth added.
Elizabeth said she is seeing a chiropractor for a "nasty case of whiplash" and that daughter Esabella has some minor cuts and has not been sleeping well since the accident.
"Drunk driving is a horrible, horrible thing," Elizabeth stressed. "I hope this accident helps raise awareness to the dangers of drunk driving and driving without insurance. This happened to us on a Sunday afternoon in broad daylight and it could've been really bad."
This is the second time in three months that members of the Thelin family were involved in a car accident, that could've been much worse. In October, Brian and Angelina's teenage children Daniel and Annette were in an accident. Daniel was driving when he veered off the road, overcorrected and crashed into a semi. Daniel suffered a concussion and Annette has had a couple of surgeries due to a broken femur and some internal injuries.
"I'm certain that angels were attending in both incidents. I believe in miracles and am grateful for the angels who attended to my family," said Angelina. "Onward and upward. The Lord has great blessings in store for us."