After an evening full of eating pizza, bowling and enjoying one another’s company, on the Morose family’s drive back to their Fredrickson home, the unthinkable happened.
According to a News Tribune story, Todd Morose was driving north on state Route 507 near 208th Street East about 6:40 p.m. on March 7 with his wife, LeeAnna, and daughters, Krista, 13, and Theresa-Ann, 12, in a 1991 Toyota 4Runner when an oncoming 2002 Ford F350 pickup driven by Matthew Haygood, who was allegedly drunk, crossed the center line and hit the 4Runner head-on.
Todd Morose was killed almost instantly.
LeeAnna was transported to Madigan Army Medical Center, Theresa-Ann was transported to Mary Bridge in Tacoma and then airlifted to Harborview in Seattle, and Krista was transported to Mary Bridge, where she stayed for eight days.
After nearly two months apart, LeeAnna and daughter Theresa-Ann were reunited April 30 for the first time as part of the East Pierce Fire And Rescue Foundation’s Sentimental Journey program.
Off-duty firefighters of East Pierce Fire and Rescue who donate their time to the Sentimental Journey program typically transport hospice patients one last time to a destination of their choice. One woman was transported to Crystal Mountain to marry her long-term boyfriend, another went to Anthony’s restaurant in Gig Harbor to have one final meal out with her family.
The program just completed its one-year pilot project, where off-duty firefighters donate their time and skills as EMTs and paramedics, with the help of the East Pierce Fire Foundation to reimburse the department for using the transport units and medical supplies along the journey.
The Sentimental Journey program had a different kind of transport for the Morose family following the horrific car accident. he journey for the Morose family wasn’t one the foundation would typically do, but after LeeAnna’s social worker called Teresa McCallion, the president and founding member of the program, the foundation couldn’t help but set the family up to be partially reunited.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” LeeAnna said of her reunion with her daughter. “It had been almost two months since I had seen her (Theresa-Ann). For me, we weren’t even in the same hospital, so I was finding out everything about her through third party. So I was anxious about how she was doing, what she looked like, how was she emotionally. To get eyes on (her) just was a big relief.”
A group of East Pierce Firefighters, led by Brian O’Leary, picked up LeeAnna from her parents’ home in South Hill, where she is recovering, and brought her to Harborview to see her daughter after nearly two months apart.
“I never dreamed that if a family was in a car accident together that they would be spread out and so far,” LeeAnna said. “I never imagined that could ever happen. When I woke up, I expected my kids to be in the same hospital. I know they’re far away, and I had no way to see them. I kept asking them to bring them to me, but they couldn’t do it.”
The trip was very emotional for all those involved. The crew knew that Theresa-Ann is a special-needs child, so nobody knew exactly how the reunion would go, O’Leary said.
“She hid under her covers for a good five minutes,” he said. “Her mom says that’s how she reacts to surprises. We stayed back and were in the nurse’s station watching. She slowly warming back up to mom, and of course, she was excited.”
Theresa-Ann, her mother and her grandmother all had Theresa-Ann’s favorite, teriyaki, for lunch and spent the afternoon together.
“Just watching them reunite was really moving,” O’Leary said. “They’ve been away from each other for so long. It was pretty sad; they lost a husband and dad. That’s why I did it, to help the family with that part of their struggle.”
Both LeeAnna and Krista are now home from the hospital. Krista is living with her uncle, who is taking care of her and making sure she gets to school. The family has yet to return to their Fredrickson home since the accident.
“We’re in a way, kind of in denial because we haven’t been home yet,” LeeAnna said. “The girls know daddy is gone, and I know daddy is gone. When we get home, I think it’s going to hit. We haven’t even been able to have a funeral.”
LeeAnna says she hasn’t given Haygood, the alleged drunk driver, a lot of thought since she doesn’t have the energy to think about it.
“If there is anything I could do to make people stop drinking and driving, I would do it in a heartbeat,” she said.
LeeAnna says her faith, her daughters, and the rest of her family is what keeps her going.
East Pierce Fire and Rescue Foundation officials take great pride in the Sentimental Journey program’s ability to unite families and build happy memories. Officials are in the midst of getting approval from Pierce County to expand the program to reach hospice patients across the county.
“The goal is to provide an opportunity for all hospice patients in Pierce County,” McCallion said. “It’s very joyful. The patients and their families are so grateful ... it’s an honor.”