There is nothing in life that is guaranteed. You never know what moment will be your last which is reason enough to cherish every minute you spend with your friends and family.
The most picture-perfect life can turn into a nightmare within seconds. This is the story of a family who faced an immense heartbreak and loss and now is working towards healing from it…
Ashlee Rhodes and Travis Nunes both lived in Lincoln, California, with their two children, Bradlee and Easton Nunes. Ashlee was known for her friendly personality that made everyone feel at ease. She was a mom as well as an entrepreneur; all rolled into one!
Both parents were always working hard to ensure their children had the best of everything. They wanted to give them a better life than the one they had.
But little did they know, their picture-perfect world would soon be turned upside down. On September 26, 2022, the entire family went to a pumpkin patch to take a few photos and celebrate little Bradlee’s birthday. They had no idea this would be the last time they ever took photos together as a family.
After spending some time together at the pumpkin patch, the family split up into two pairs. While Travis took their daughter Bradlee home, Ashlee headed to a bowling alley with Easton.
She was planning on picking up dinner for the entire family on their way back from the bowling alley so all of them could have dinner together as a family.
Three hours after the couple had split up, Ashlee and Easton were still not home. At this point, Travis had started to worry and could not think about why they still had not returned yet.
Travis decided to go and investigate what was holding his wife and son up. He got into his car and took the route he assumed his wife might have taken on her way back home. When he got to Lincoln Boulevard he saw a lot of police cars which made him nervous.
When he got closer to the officials in the area, his biggest fear was confirmed; it was his wife’s car that had been involved in an accident. The car had been hit by an oncoming train at a railroad crossing.
Travis recalled an officer telling him about his wife’s death. He remembers hearing, “I regret to inform you that she passed away.” He did not even get time to process the loss as he immediately rushed to the UC Davis Trauma Center where his son Easton had been transported.
The little boy was injured quite badly and was in the ICU. Doctors informed a devastated Travis that his son had two broken femurs and severe lung injuries, but they expected him to make a full recovery.
On hearing about his son’s survival and the fact that he would recover, Travis said, “He’s a fighter just like his mom was.”
Even though he was dealing with the trauma of suddenly losing his wife Ashlee, he had to put that aside and focus on being there for his son. He did not leave Easton’s side for a minute.
And on September 29, he finally told his son that the crash he was involved in ended up taking his mother’s life. While losing Ashlee had been hard for him, it was just as hard to deliver this heartbreaking news to his injured son. He said, “His eyes started tearing up, his lips quivered.”
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He then had to tell his little girl about her mother’s death as well; an incredibly tough conversation that he never thought he would have with his little children.
Thankfully Travis had a lot of family members rallying around him to help. His relative, Bryan Nunes set up a GoFundMe page to help with all the costs the family would have to face in the wake of this tragedy. The unexpected costs of the funeral and little Easton’s medical bills needed to be dealt with.
Bryan said in a statement, “Ashlee’s passing has left a significant hole in so many of us that words cannot explain, but she left us with many memories.”
“As you might imagine, the families have been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions to make sense of this horrific and tragic loss,” he went on. The GoFundMe campaign aimed to raise $150,000 and official surpassed that amount just a few days ago.
Easton was also doing well in his recovery and was shifted from the ICU, since he was no longer in danger and recovering beautifully. As for Travis, while seeing his son doing better made him feel more calm, he still felt heartbroken over losing his wife. But he still made sure to find strength, he said, “I am going to be strong like Ashlee would want me to be.” He asked people for prayers as him and his family navigate this confusing and trying time for them.
Easton was discharged on October 2 and allowed to go home by doctors. While the little boy was still in his wheelchair, doctors were confident he would recover soon and not need a wheelchair in no time at all.
Meanwhile, authorities had been investigating the accident and determined that the gates for the railway crossing had been working properly. But Travis stated that he would make sure he got more answers and would look into the entire ordeal himself.
About his late wife, he said, “She’s irreplaceable. The fact that my son is alive is a miracle.”
Travis took to his Facebook account to thank the countless people who had offered their support in the wake of his wife’s death and said that he truly believed his wife had “sacrificed herself” to protect their son. What a sweet sentiment to have…
Truly recovering from this tragedy will be incredibly hard for this family. We are wishing them the best of luck in their recovery both mentally and physically.