Relatives share memories of four killed in Sunday morning crashBy Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
STEPHENSON -- Photographs show Amanda Roe with her husband, Mark, and their two sons, Caleb and Tyler -- all smiling.
But on Tuesday afternoon Amanda Roe's mother, Brenda Simkhovitch, needed pictures for the funeral home.
"They were just a loving family," she said at her home on Jordan Springs Road. "Mark and Amanda lived for them boys. The boys were their world.
"[Amanda and Mark were] always smiling," Simkhovitch added. "Caleb and Tyler were the same way. Always happy."
Andy Simkhovitch echoed his ex-wife's remarks.
"She's the daughter that could always make you smile," he said.
The four family members died in a vehicle crash on U.S. 11 late Sunday morning on the way to visit Mark Roe's mother, Shirley Roe. Brenda Simkhovitch said the family drives every Sunday from their home in Stephenson, stopping by Sheetz to buy coffee and a morning newspaper before spending the day with Shirley Roe.
On Sunday, the family didn't make it to Shirley Roe's home.
Their vehicle was stopped at a traffic light on U.S. 11 when it was struck from behind by a 1985 Chevrolet pickup, driven by Steven Andrew Boyce, according to state police.
Brenda Simkhovitch recalls being at home with granddaughter, Teslyn Kuykendall, 11, at the time of the crash.
"Carl [Roe], Mark's brother, was coming up [Interstate] 81 and of course they already had the ramp blocked off so he went over on the bridge and saw the Jeep and knew it was theirs," Brenda Simkhovitch said. "So he got to his mother's and called me to make sure they hadn't left yet, and when he told me that it was a red Jeep that's when I told him 'I'm on my way,' and that's why we were up there together."
In the days since the crash, Brenda Simkhovitch and the family have had to assist investigators with trying to positively identify the victims, which required searching for medical records. They spent much of Tuesday working on funeral arrangements.
The family remains in shock and in mourning.
Andy Simkhovitch said his brothers and sisters -- whose children grew up with the victims and spent time at family cookouts and other gatherings -- are not taking the loss well.
"I've heard in the last couple days, by phone, the whole family's devastated about this," he said. "One whole family in one stroke, you know, that's hard to deal with."
The family remains close in the hour of need, they both said.
"We have -- had a good little family," Andy Simkhovitch said, holding back tears.
Brenda Simkhovitch, when asked what was going through her mind, said "stupidity" and "anger."
"My motto is if you're gonna drink and drive, drink Pepsi, I mean, nothing else," she said.
The Simkhovitches both said drivers need to "slow down" and avoid distractions, such as using cell phones.
When asked what they wanted to say in person to Boyce -- the man accused of driving drunk and causing the fatal crash -- Andy Simkhovitch responded:
"You wouldn't be able to write that, what I want to say about it," but then added, "It's a tragedy to us to lose half of our family and what he has done. I hope that the court system or justice can give him the maximum or whatever they can do to prosecute him."
The Simkhovitches questioned the system for giving Boyce a suspended jail term for a drug conviction.
"If he'd been in jail this wouldn't have happened," Brenda Simkhovitch said.
The Simkhovitches said they remain grateful to the community for its "overwhelming" support.
A memorial page has been set up on Facebook. A memorial also was put up near the crash site.
Brenda Simkhovitch also thanked the rescue workers, a few of whom knew her daughter personally, who responded to the crash and tried to save the family.
"I know some of them are taking it pretty hard," she said. "Just to thank you. I know that they did everything they could do."