It happened in a flash. During a rainy drive from Wimberley, the next blind curve would abruptly end the Morton family’s trip. A car was coming toward them — sideways — into their lane.

Behind the wheel, Zack Morton had no chance to veer from the impact. He and his precious cargo, wife Regan and young children Blake and Samantha, collided with the other vehicle. Their car careened into the air and landed on a guard rail.

“We were terrified and shocked, but quickly we all made eye contact with each other. We were miraculously all still alive,” recalls Zack.

Despite a fractured spine and a broken ankle and finger, Zack, with the help of an “angelic” retired firefighter who was first on the scene, managed to pull the children from the car. Blake suffered a bad neck injury and severe burns from his seatbelt. Both Samantha’s femurs were broken just above her knees.

Regan sat trapped in the car with severe abdominal injuries. Smoke filled the air. “At that point I began to feel panicked and intense pain was setting in.” She asked the retired firefighter if he believed in prayer. “He told me he’d been praying for me the whole time. That’s when I felt like I was going to be okay.” Soon first responders and the “jaws of life” freed Regan from the car.

Dripping Springs EMS loaded the family together into one ambulance. Blake and Samantha were taken to Dell Children’s Medical Center for top pediatric trauma care. Regan and Zack arrived at University Medical Center Brackenridge, home to the region’s only adult Level 1 trauma center.

“From the time we arrived at the trauma center, our care was really exceptional — quick, expert — everything you would hope it would be,” recalls Zack. “Of course no one ever expects to need it, but when you do, there’s an assurance that you are getting top quality when you are at a trauma center like Brackenridge.”

“This was a really scary and painful time for us, especially since we were separated from our children,” Regan shares. “While the doctors, nurses and social workers were attending to us, they were also keeping us posted on our children’s injuries and treatment at Dell Children’s. From what we’ve heard from family during that time, Dell Children’s was amazing.”

Regan and Zack received the right care at the right time and were able to go home after a few days. But their first stop was to see the kids. “It was the first time we had all smiled since the accident,” says Regan. “We have a picture of all four of us in wheelchairs. As difficult as that time was, it’s my most cherished family photo.

“Life is too short not to do the things that really make your heart beat,” she adds. “That’s what we’ve taken away from this situation. Just thinking about the possibility of one or more of us not being here for the kids’ games, to celebrate holidays together — well — that’s just really big.”

“We are closer than ever. Our lives have forever changed for the better,” Zack explains. “Our family can’t thank Seton and the medical professionals who watched over us enough.”

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