Family of 3 cousins killed in Wis. crash discuss tragedy

PIERCE COUNTY, Wis. - For nearly five months, Tammy Weber and her three daughters have walked a path few can imagine.

"There is so many families; there are three daughters," said Weber.

For the first time, she and two of her daughters spoke to KARE 11 about the crash that killed three promising young lives. Almost overnight last year, all three sisters lost a child and their mother lost three grandchildren.

"I think mainly on a good day, it's just an OK day," said Kati Pavek. "It's a work in progress. I think it will be work for us for the rest of our lives."

It was in December when Kari Milberg was driving on Highway 35 just outside of Prescott, Wis. Riding with her was her 11-year-old daughter Lydia and her 3-year-old son Easton, along with her two 5-year-old nieces Laynie Jo Amos and Clara Pavek.

Investigators say Milberg's vehicle spun sideways into oncoming traffic. Lydia, Laynie and Clara died. Easton was injured but not critically. His mother, however, suffered a brain injury and was in a coma for several days.

Milberg remembers none of it.

"Just buckling them into the car seat, that's the last thing I remember," said Milberg, clearly still shaken by what happened.

Her first memory was waking up in the hospital asking for her daughter.

"Because she wasn't there. (I was) thinking she was with her friends that day or something. I was worried. When is she going to come see me?" she said.

Her mother was forced to tell Milberg that her daughter and two nieces did not make it. Milberg said it took her a day to fully comprehend the news, but once she did it was devastating.

"They were my life, they were all my life," she said.

It is a life that has known heartache before. Milberg and her sisters' father died in a car accident 12 years ago last month. The day she gave birth to Lydia was the same day of her father's funeral.

"I think we would have fallen without this community," said Weber.

It is here where hope starts to find its way into this story of heartache.

"Everybody wanted to do something, and nobody knew what to do," said Nancy LeMay.

LeMay and Tanjia Gehrman have organized an effort over Facebook to build a playground in honor of the girls. They're calling it "Angels Island."

"This is a way we want those children to always be remembered," said LeMay.

They'll build it in an empty lot next to the community center in Miltown, Wis. not far from where the mothers of the three girls grew up.

They've already received some money and donated playground equipment in hopes of making it a reality next fall.

"There is so much good in people, just give them an opportunity," she said.

And through this effort something else has happened. The family has slowly begun to smile again.

"I didn't know if I'd see that again, see them smile, laugh, and it's wonderful," said Gerhman.

The family says helping with the planning and the building of the playground has given them something to look forward to instead of constantly looking back. LeMay says the girls' fathers are helping build portions of the playground.

"Otherwise we're just chipping off the days, crossing them off, to what? We don't know," said Weber.

Some of their smiles have also come thanks to little Easton, who is a source of joy for the entire family.

"My son helps me a lot. He's what keeps me here," said Milberg.

And he keeps them remembering their three little angles who loved music and dance parties, something they would often do on weekends.

They described Lydia as the constant protector who loved sports and was an excellent student. Clara was the eccentric love bug who generally cared about everyone, said her mother Kati. And Weber described Laynie as the fearless animal lover who treated everyone with kindness. It's a quality they all shared, according to family.

"They were never mean to anyone. Always cared about what the other person felt like. That's the quality I'm most proud of," said Weber.

Milberg continues to make progress, but her family says she will most likely always deal with the brain trauma she suffered in the car crash.

Here is more information about how to donate ( to the playground and the latest on the effort (


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