Crash victims' father visited driver in hospital weekly - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Crash victims' father visited driver in hospital weekly

Scene of deadly accident - November 2005 (KHQ) Scene of deadly accident - November 2005 (KHQ)
Clifford Helm walks out of the courtroom (KHQ) Clifford Helm walks out of the courtroom (KHQ)

SPOKANE, Wash. - The father of five children killed in a head-on crash in 2005 took the stand in Spokane in the trial of the man accused of causing the tragic wreck.

Jeffrey Schrock was driving the truck hit head-on by Clifford Helm in November 2005.  Monday, as Helm's trial stretched into its ninth day, Schrock broke down in tears as he talked about his five children.  Television cameras were barred from shooting video of his testimony.

Schrock testified he was on his way to Spokane to meet his wife that November afternoon.  He began crying as he told the jury where his kids had been sitting in the truck.

"Jerril was beside me," he began, "Jana was beside him".  And that's when he began to sob.  "Creig was in the back at the passenger side, then Carmen and Corrina was behind me."

Schrock said he was driving south of SR 395 when he saw a pickup truck in the median.

"It was such a short time that I didn't have time to think," he said.  "Looking back, my first impression was that it was a highway department truck.  I didn't do anything in response until I saw it up on the roadway and then it jerked the steering wheel to the left."

Schrock said the next thing he remembers is lying on something hard and hearing the sound of an elevator bell.  He suffered several injuries, including a broken pelvis, a broken jaw and internal bleeding.

Despite the tragedy he's experienced, however, Schrock said he has spoken with Helm about what happened that night.  During testimony on the stand, he said Helm and his wife Sandy visited him often while he was in the hospital and afterwards.

"Basically, he told me he doesn't remember what happened," Schrock said.

The meetings, Schrock said, averaged at least once a week the first couple of months after the crash. The judge in the case ruled earlier that attorneys for both sides could not talk about the Schrock's forgiving Helm.

After Schrock testified, prosecutors called the Spokane Medical Examiner to the stand.  She described what injuries caused the five Schrock children to die.  The State then rested its case.

Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying the State had not met its burden of proof.  The judge promptly denied the request
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