Robert and Vicki Brown were puttering back to the shores of Tacoma’s Commencement Bay after watching Fourth of July fireworks when another boat smashed into theirs.
“My parents’ lives are changed forever,” said one of the Graham couple’s daughters, Robynn Bradshaw.
The Browns haven’t been able to see each other since Saturday night, when ambulances took Robert, 55, to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and Vicki, 54, to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Vicki Brown had her right arm amputated and doctors are tending to her broken clavicle.
Robert Brown suffered a tear on his brain and on Tuesday had metal plates put into his face because of a broken eye socket.
Police arrested Joshua Puckett, a 44-year-old Tacoma man, after the collision.
He allegedly was drunk and driving about 45 miles per hour when his boat hit the Brown’s 17-foot aluminum Hewescraft boat near Point Defiance Park.
Puckett’s 22-foot plastic Wellcraft boat went airborne and flipped, spilling himself and his three passengers into the water. Douglas Foster, 47, of Portland, remains missing and is presumed dead.
Vicki Brown is too traumatized to speak about the accident, her daughter said Tuesday. She also is avoiding news reports about what happened to try to avoid reliving the incident.
“She seems to be in good spirits but has a long road ahead of her,” Bradshaw said.
It’s unclear when the couple will be released from the hospitals.
Their daughters are dealing with their parents day-to-day affairs, such as canceling all credit cards after Robert Brown’s wallet was lost in Puget Sound.
As the medical bills mount, the daughters have started a GoFundMe page called “Accident on Commencement Bay” to raise money. As of Tuesday, 74 people had donated $3,715.
The page features a photograph of the sunset Vicki Brown took two hours before the accident and posted to Facebook, calling it “a perfect night.”
Bradshaw and her sister have temporarily moved into their parents’ house to feel closer to them and help tend to things while they’re in the hospital.
A neighbor is watering Robert Brown’s 12-foot-tall tomato plants, which is the thing he’s most concerned about after his family.
It’s a tight-knit clan.
The family gathers for church every Sunday morning. Robert Brown then reads the comics to Bradshaw’s 2-year-old daughter, Riley, as she curls up in his lap.
Vicki Brown busies herself in the kitchen, whipping up new dishes and desserts for the weekly family dinner.
The grandparents spoil Riley; Colby, 12; and Chloe, 14. There are crabbing outings and dress-ups in fancy clothes and special runs to Panera Bread.
Robert Brown works as a manager at Kenmore and Vicki Brown is a full-time caretaker for Riley.
“She’s the best grandma anybody can have,” Bradshaw said.
She worries about how her mother will adapt without her right arm. She worries about when her parents can be together again. She worries about all the stress to come.
But she still pauses in her day to say a thankful prayer that her parents are still alive.