They were finally ready to talk about the crash that resulted in the death of their unborn child.
Christopher and Crystal McClure recounted the details of Feb. 15 when a Florida Highway Patrol trooper rear-ended the North Fort Myers family on Interstate 75 and altered their lives.
Crystal McClure spoke from her Lee Memorial Hospital bed, her husband standing close beside her. Her surviving son, Christopher, slept in the safe nook of her right arm as she spoke.
The family clings to pictures and a record of birth, which reads “Baby Boy McClure.” They had him cremated and keep his tiny urn in the room with them.
“I’m angry because this happened. I’m sad because I lost my son,” she said. “I try not to be angry. Being angry is not going to get me anywhere. Just have to forgive. If possible.”
The crash knocked out Crystal McClure’s teeth, punctured her lungs, fractured her hip socket, and crushed her pelvis, ankles and lower extremities, said an attorney representing the family.
“I remember everything,” she said.
Trooper Gustavo Reyes struck the back of the McClures’ 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee near mile marker 134 of I-75. The FHP traffic homicide investigation is ongoing, but initial crash reports said Reyes was distracted.
Christopher and Crystal McClure were ejected from the SUV. Their 18-month-old son survived the crash secure in his car seat.
Christopher McClure said he located his wife at the scene of the crash.
“I just embraced her in my arms and told her everything was going to be OK,” he said.
But Crystal McClure was about 22-weeks pregnant. Their unborn baby — a boy they planned to name Christian — was pronounced dead the next day.
“They just told me I had lost him and that there was nothing they could do for him,” Crystal McClure said.
The broken bones in both of Crystal McClure’s legs are held together by external fixators — pins that pierce through her flesh and make her look bionic.
“Crystal is going to have to undergo six months to a year of rehabilitation to even be able to walk again, let alone care for an 18-month-old toddler,” said Elizabeth Kagan, one of the family’s attorneys.
“It’s hard knowing I’m not going to be able to walk for a while,” Crystal McClure said.
The family doesn’t have health insurance and has already accrued more than $400,000 in hospital bills, a sum that is expected to go up, Kagan said.
Emotions overcame Christopher McClure as he held the picture of his dead son and offered thanks to the members of the community who have helped them since the crash.
“Anybody else that wants to help, I’d greatly appreciate it,” Christopher McClure said.
Their mobile home in North Fort Myers needs to be renovated to make it possible for Crystal McClure to come home in a wheelchair.
One Southwest Florida organization is already stepping up to help the family transition.
Builders Care, the charitable arm of the Lee Building Industry Association, has said it will take care of the assessment and the building costs.
The organization provides free emergency construction services to economically disadvantaged homeowners, according to its website.
Michael Reitmann, a Builders Care board member, said the McClures will probably need an exterior ramp and other interior modifications for a wheelchair.
The McClures said they were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.
But Christopher McClure said they had previous issues with their SUV’s seat belts.
“I tried fixing it ... myself because I don’t have a whole lot of money,” he said.
Kagan said her law firm will conduct its own investigation once the FHP releases the McClures’ SUV.
“I’m going on the assumption that they were wearing their seat belts because that’s what they told us,” Kagan said.
Kagan said the McClures will also be pursuing all of their legal avenues, including possible lawsuits, once the official investigation is complete.
Donations for the McClures are being accepted at any Wells Fargo. Checks may be made payable to Christopher McClure, Crystal McClure or Christopher and Crystal McClure.
ABA: 063-107-513 Account: 1789464201