An Ohio family of three attempting to give their terminally ill son the best of everything died on Monday after their small private plane crashed into a ski lift in Colorado.
Amy and James Kerker were determined to make “every day count” for Lucas, 6, who suffered from a rare neurodegenerative disease called ataxia telangiectasia. They hired a small airplane to take their son on a vacation to Moab, Utah, when their aircraft burst into flames after colliding into ski lifts at the Loveland resort in Colorado, reports the Daily Mail.
Authorities believe that James, 43, was piloting the plane at the time and that it did not have enough power to get through the mountain area. After taking off from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, James reportedly had to turn the Piper PA 28-235 around in order to avoid the mountains, reports 9 News. Their plane crashed less than one hour after taking off.
A witness named Rico Argentati told the news station he was hiking when he stopped to take a break and heard the plane coming up the valley. “I knew right away it was too low,” Argentati said. “It made a 180-degree turn to the left, and it dropped below the ridge of Mount Sniktau. I said ‘Oh my God, this plane is in trouble.’”
Amy, 39, was a popular pediatric surgery nurse at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Her colleagues say she was “dedicated” and “known for her advocacy for her patients and families.” When she learned of her son’s incurable condition, she and her husband made it a point to dedicate her life to giving him new experiences.
The family created a YouTube video for Lucas in which they describe the day they found out his diagnosis as the “worst day of their lives.” Only 500 children in the United States suffer from the disease, which is described as a combination of muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and immunodeficiency. Many sufferers are bound to a wheelchair after a few years and have difficulty maintaining their balance and eating and swallowing.
The Kerker family said research was their only hope and they were praying a cure for the disease would be discovered, but in the meantime, had made it their priority to travel and enjoy life. In her final Facebook post before the tragic accident, Amy wrote: “Listening to Conway Twitty classics driving through the Rocky Mountains … could only be better if we had some John Denver.”