DUMAS, Texas (KFDA) - Crystal and Trey Tipton had only been married for seven months the day he passed away.
Both had children from a previous marriage. They were childhood friends, growing up just down the street from each other.
Crystal said Trey was the kind of man to go the extra mile to make family time on the weekends count.
“He has three kids, and I have three kids,” said Crystal. “They were inseparable. It was just like they bonded, and we were just best friends.”
The evening of May 18th began just like that. Trey took the family out to skate and eat dinner in honor of Crystal’s son’s 12th birthday.
It was the last week of school and the mood was easy.
The family finished up the festivities and headed back to Dumas in two separate cars.
Crystal had no idea she was saying goodbye to her husband and the kids for the last time.
“The last thing I said to him was, ‘I’ll see you at home,’” she said.
12 miles north of Amarillo on US-287, a drunk driver was leaving the Canadian River, driving into oncoming traffic in the northbound lane.
Crystal, who was driving behind her husband’s car, came upon a devastating scene.
“I was minding my business driving, and I came around the curve, and there was the disaster,” said Crystal. “I remember as I am pulling over, I’m looking for Trey’s car. When I didn’t see his car...” she trailed off.
The drunk driver struck Trey’s car, which was also carrying his two kids.
Police at the scene delivered the news.
“I asked them, ‘Where is my husband?’
‘I’m sorry. He didn’t make it.’”
“'Where are my babies?'"
“Right then, I screamed.”
Trey’s 5-year-old daughter Addison and 9-year-old son Leland were killed in the crash, along with the drunk driver.
Still reeling from shock, Crystal sped to the hospital to check on Trey’s 13-year-old daughter Brandi, who had been taken to Amarillo via helicopter.
“She was walking,” said Crystal. “She was covered in bumps and bruises, but she was released that night.”
After three funerals in one week, Crystal said she’s finally looking forward.
One minute, one hour, one day at a time, the family is doing their best to heal from the tragedy.
Crystal said the process is a roller coaster. She has clear memories of the tiny personalities lost.
She remembers 5-year-old Addision was a daddy’s girl who was so thrilled to finally enter the first grade.
“She was such a bossy, sassy butt,” laughed Crystal. “She was a daddy’s girl. She ruled this house, oh yes.”
9-year-old Leland, she said, was a fun guy with a big imagination.
“He loved to tell jokes, and when he told jokes, he meant business. He was just the sweetest kid."
As time begins to heal the family, Crystal wants the whole community to see the risks and consequences of driving drunk.
She said that tragedy always seems so far away until it strikes closer to home than anyone ever expected.
She and her family are living proof.
“It’s not worth going out and killing someone else’s family,” said Crystal. “I can’t even explain what I’m feeling half the time, having my family taken away from me.”
In honor and memory of her husband and his children, Crystal plans to have shirts made with Trey, Addison and Leland’s names on them, spreading awareness of how a decision made by one can affect so many forever.
“This has impacted three families. Not just one."