Baker a bright spot in a tragedy

September 06, 2007 12:00 am

To the editor:

A family tragedy brought us to your community. We are the two daughters and sons-in-law of Dean Phelps, who was killed in the SUV and trailer accident on I-84 on Aug. 27. Our mother, Patricia, was extricated from the vehicle and taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital.

Upon learning of the accident, we made immediate plans to travel from Wisconsin to Baker City. We flew to Boise and made it to St. Elizabeth's after midnight on Aug. 28.

As our trip unfolded, we were overwhelmed and grateful for the love and support we felt from those of you with whom we came in contact. We felt your concern, compassion and attention to our needs during this difficult time.

Our mother was without family or friends for the first 24 hours following the accident, but she wasn't alone because of the special care she received at St. Elizabeth's. All of the physicians (Dr. Sandefur, Dr. Lamb), the nurses (Kim and the others — too many to name but you know who you are), Bill, the social worker, and all of the staff at the hospital were incredible. Their genuine concern for her physical and emotional support was more than we ever could have expected. Words cannot express the heartfelt thanks we have for all of them.

Two of the paramedics that responded to the accident, Eric and Don, also stopped to see our mother at the hospital before we arrived. Additionally, we would like to give special thanks to all of the firefighters and emergency personnel that provided aid during this time. Because our father was a retired firefighter, we felt a special bond with them and appreciated their efforts.

We also needed to make funeral arrangements in a city far from home. Yet, Rebecca from Aspen Funeral Services made this difficult task manageable. She demonstrated such patience and understanding of our situation and supported our mother and us through the decision-making process. We felt fortunate to work with her. Lisa followed up with us a few days later and once again we could not have asked for a better person.

The SUV and trailer were taken by 5 Star Towing to BC Auto Salvage and we had multiple contacts with Randy, his brother Steve and their co-worker Rick. We needed access to the vehicles to gather personal effects, documents and clothing. They recognized how difficult it would be for our mother and us to see the wreckage and took extra steps to assist us. They were with us on and off throughout the day, checking on our progress and supporting us.

Our parents' insurance agent is located in Mesa, Ariz., therefore we were in contact with Gregg Hinrichsen, your Baker City State Farm agent. Although we were not his clients, Gregg and the people in his office took a great deal of time helping us and answering our questions.

We have suffered a great loss here but we will never forget Baker City, a small town that cared. On behalf of our mother and us, we want to express our sincere gratitude. We are thankful for the wonderful people of your community. We felt blessed to have you support us in our time of need. A piece of our hearts will always be here.

Marty and Holly Armato,

Mequon, Wis.

Rich and Karen Kinkade,

Janesville, Wis.