MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – Parents of two of the teens who were hit by a pickup truck Monday are opening up for the first time on the devastating day that changed their lives forever.
Rachel Freeman and Joseph White were two of the Moore High School cross country runners hit by the truck. They were also high school sweethearts.
But Rachel died at the scene, and now while Joseph works to physically recover, he’s left with the emotional trauma of losing his partner.
For Rachel’s parents, it’s a completely new reality that feels like anything but.
“Just one day at a time,” said Michael Freeman, Rachel’s father. “At this point, just one day at a time.”
For the past 17 years, he and Rachel’s mother, Jody, have raised a girl whose determined spirit was a force to be reckoned with.
“If Rachel had her mind set on something that she wanted to do, the best thing you could do, step aside,” Jody said.
Her passion for running was matched only by kindness for everyone around her.
“The stories that are told of how she befriended someone or took the extra step to be kind to that person or make them feel involved,” Michael said, “it’s just amazing.”
Many stories of the impact Rachel had are reaching her parents for the first time this week, as friends and loved ones reflect on her life.
Those stories are what has been helping the Freemans get through each moment since the unthinkable happened Monday.
That afternoon, Jody was in the car with her son when they saw the helicopters and heard sirens, but didn’t think anything of it until they’d heard a different Moore HS runner had been hit by a car.
Jody knew her daughter was supposed to be running and wouldn’t have her cell phone as she rushed to the school.
When she arrived, she said she didn’t need to be told what happened.
“One of Rachel’s coaches gave me a hug, and I could tell by the look on their faces,” Jody said, “I knew that my daughter was in Heaven.”
Sophomore Yuridia Martinez died the next day from her injuries.
Kolby Crum is still in the hospital with traumatic brain injuries.
Ashton Baza was released from the hospital Monday with several broken bones. Shiloh Hutchinson was released Thursday, along with Joseph.
“We just didn’t know that first day, we didn’t know what the outcome might be,” said Joseph’s father, John White. “It was very, very scary. “
He said Joseph suffered several broken bones, a bruised lung, a concussion and a brain bleed.
Recovery for Joseph will be a long road as he works toward walking again, then hopefully running cross country for Rogers State University next year.
But the emotional trauma of losing Rachel is worse than the physical injuries.
“He’s going to struggle with that. They were best friends for several years, he loved her dearly,” John said. “It’s difficult for us all, especially him. “
Both families are comforted by the massive outpouring of support, the tragedy reaching people far outside of Oklahoma.
“Her faith in Jesus Christ and her love for the Lord,” Jody said. “That’s where that kindness flows from.”
Stories of the impact she had helping her family get closer to accepting this new reality.
“Even now it’s… at times it doesn’t seem real,” Michael said. “You just think that things will go back to normal at some point. But they won’t.”