By Kent Larsen
Holiday Week Road Tragedies Decimate Two LDS Families
MCKINNEY, TEXAS -- Two separate highway accidents devastated separate LDS
families during the just ended Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the US. In
McKinney, Texas, the Johnson family lost both parents, Keith Owen Johnson,
38, and Nancy Lou Wittbank Johson, 34, in an accident that left all their
five children, including a 13-month-old son, injured. Meanwhile, four
members of the Fairbanks family of Orem, Utah were killed in a head-on
collision Saturday outside Page, Arizona.
The Johnsons were remembered in a funeral Tuesday in the McKinney 2nd Ward,
where 150 friends and relatives gathered to pay their last respects. The
Johnsons were traveling on Texas highway 121 on Wednesday to visit relatives
for Thanksgiving when the accident occurred. Keith and Nancy Johson were
remembered as opposites that "fit togehter like a glove," according to
Nancy's sister, Sara Smith. "They were a beautiful couple." Keith Johson was
a systems analyst for Hewlett Packard who had recently completed a master's
degree. His wife, Nancy, was remembered as a "spunky romantic" who was in
the middle of writing several books.
McKinney 2nd Ward Bishop Steven L. Hammond expressed pride in the ward for
the way it responded to the tragedy. He said church members rushed to the
hospital to be with the children and that the family's house has been
flooded with friends and neighbors offering sympathy and help. The youngest
of the Johnson's five children, 13-month-old Caleb, remains in critical
condition in the hospital, and the neighbors have set up a memorial fund for
the children, (the oldest is 14) who will move with their Uncle and Aunt's
family to Utah.
Meanwhile, the Fairbanks family lost their lives while traveling home to
Orem, Utah after visiting a daughter and son-in-law in Texas. Wayne
Fairbanks, 50, and Elaine Fairbanks, 47, were killed along with their two
sons, Daniel, 18, and Joseph, 16, in the collision. They left behind three
married children and ason, David Fairbanks, who is serving an LDS mission.
Wayne's older brother, Richard Fairbanks, is worried about providing for his
nephew when he returns from his mission, "He has lots of family and support.
Its just that there's nobody here. It's been so devastating. [He's] going to
come home and have nothing."
Family, friends remember couple
Dallas TX Morning News 29Nov00 P2
By Manolo Barco: Dallas Morning News
Crash claims 4 in Orem family
Deseret News 28Nov00 P2
By Sharon Haddock: Deseret News staff writer
Their car collides with a pickup outside Page, Ariz.