Family and friends will gather Thursday to mourn the loss of three sisters killed in a two-vehicle accident that occurred Aug. 10 on U.S. Highway 20 west of the Wood River Valley. The driver of one of the vehicles has been charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter for allegedly driving drunk and causing the collision.
Aneena Lurak, 6, Kya Lurak, 5, and Drayka Emyka Rayshell, 3, all of Mountain Home, were in the back seat of their father’s Dodge Neon, all in car seats, when a 1995 Dodge pickup driven by Matthew Richard Park, 45, of Fairfield, crashed into the back of the Dodge while it was stopped at a temporary construction light east of Hot Springs Landing on Highway 20, about 5 miles west of Timmerman Junction, around 1:19 a.m.
According to a relative of Somchai Ray Lee Lurak, the father and driver of the Neon, the family was returning to Mountain Home after visiting relatives in the Hailey area when the accident occurred. Aneena and Kya were pronounced dead at the scene, and Drayka was later pronounced dead at St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise. Lurak, 26, and Lurak’s fiancee, Emma Weigand, also 26, and from Mountain Home, were transported to St. Alphonsus hospital in Boise. As of Tuesday, Weigand was no longer a patient at the hospital and Lurak was in fair condition, meaning his vital signs are stable and within normal limits, and he is conscious.
Several attempts were made by the Idaho Mountain Express to reach out to friends and family of the victims directly, but family members said they did not want to speak to the media as the investigation of the accident is pending and a criminal case is unfolding. However, two family members of Weigand did speak with at least one media source following Park’s initial appearance in court on Aug. 12.
Jessica Jones, Weigand’s sister, told KTVB in Boise that the three sisters were the “sweetest girls ever” and that they loved music. Sharron Weigand, Emma’s mother, told KTVB that the three children were “girly girls” who would sit and get their nails painted by Weigand. Though Weigand was not their biological mother, family members said she loved the three girls deeply and intended to adopt them after she and Lurak got married.
The news stories and family members’ Facebook posts spread quickly around the world via social media and brought condolences to some family members’ Facebook pages from New Mexico to New Zealand, including Scotland, South Africa and the United Kingdom. One woman, from South Africa, told a reporter with the Idaho Mountain Express that she saw the news story shared by one of her friends via Facebook, and reached out to one of the family members directly online to give her condolences. One Facebook post by a family member received 15,000 comments and was shared more than 52,000 times across the globe.
Locally, the community of Mountain Home immediately rallied around the family following the accident, with several businesses holding fundraisers to raise money for the family’s medical and funeral expenses. Brie Thomason, owner of Brie’sta Coffee Co., created a drink in honor of the girls, calling it “Angels Wings,” after seeing multiple family members on social media referring to the trio as angels. All the revenue raised from that particular beverage on Aug. 17 went to the family. Thomason told KBOI-TV in Boise that the drink will continue to be on the menu, in memory of the little girls killed.
Another Mountain Home business owner, Farah Sanchez, held a “Bathe-a-Thon” for dogs on Saturday at her business, Paws An Claws Grooming, to raise money for the family. Sanchez told the Idaho Mountain Express that about 92 dogs were washed, and that donations were still pouring in to support the family. As of Monday, Sanchez said, the event, which included a silent auction, raised about $7,500.
A GoFundMe account created by Lurak’s sister has raised nearly $50,000 and has been shared 11,000 times via social media, according to the GoFundMe page.
A private funeral service open to family and close friends will take place Thursday in Boise for all three sisters. Lurak’s brother, Anthony Smock, has asked via social media that the public give family and friends space and privacy to mourn the loss of their loved ones.