GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A young mom who along with her unborn son was killed after her car stalled on the highway was on the phone with her dad, asking for help, when he heard the crash, her family said.
The crash killed 21-year-old Valery Arreola, who was eight months pregnant, and critically injured her 3-year-old son.
She was taking her young sons to meet her family for a day of sledding when she pulled onto northbound US-131 from Franklin Street about 2 p.m. Sunday, her family said. That is where her 1999 Nissan Altima stalled. Her sister, Nohemi Arreola, said Valery Arreola pulled to the shoulder.
“She calls my dad and says, ‘Hey, my car just stopped. What do I do?’” Nohemi Arreola said. “And he said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re on our way, we’ll come and get you.’”
“And as they’re on the phone, my dad says he hears the loud crash, and then nothing.”
Michigan State Police say a pickup truck slammed into the back of Arreola’s car.
She died at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.
“Valery was a strong mom. She was a single mom and she worked many jobs, always trying to make ends meet for her boys,” her sister said. “She never let them go without anything that they needed. She was always there for them.”
She was working for a local insurance company. Her third baby, already named Emilio, was due in February.
“We were all excited to meet him already and we were anticipating his arrival,” her sister said.
At the hospital, doctors couldn’t save her unborn son.
“They delivered him, wrapped him up in a nice blanket for us and allowed us to visit with his body at least, and he was beautiful, and they were at peace,” her sister said. “They were beautiful.”
Valery Arreola’s 5-year-old son Max escaped with just a few scratches.
“He made it out with just two scratches on his face, thank God,” Nohemi Arreola said. “His guardian angel was really watching him.”
Now, Valery Arreola’s three sisters and the rest of her family are focused on her 3-year-old son Guillermo, who suffered broken bones and a fractured skull, along with internal bleeding. They say he has already undergone two surgeries at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
“We’re all just trying to stay as strong as we can for him and not giving up, despite the doctors telling us he might not make it and it’s time to be real about that,” the sister said. “We’re not losing hope and we’re not losing faith in God.”
They also are trying to stay strong for Valery Arreola’s dad.
“I’ve never seen my dad break down the way he did yesterday,” Nohemi Arreola said. “He’s always been the macho man, doesn’t cry and to see him so destroyed because he was the last one to talk to Valery on the phone, seeing him break down like that, it’s been hard.”
The driver of the pickup truck, a 35-year-old Rockford man, was treated at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital and released.
Troopers say speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors in the crash.
The family says it plans to help the boys’ father raise his sons. Her family also has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.