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Star community rallies around teenagers hurt in weekend crash

Emily Schmidt and her sister Kayla were driving to their friend’s house when they ran into an excavator on the road hidden by thick fog.

STAR, Idaho — Friday night’s thick fog changed the lives of the Schmidt sisters forever. 

Emily Schmidt, 17, was driving her sister Kayla, 15, down Brandon Road in Star to their friend’s house when they hit an excavator head-on. The two girls, both students at Owyhee High School, were knocked unconscious.

Their dad, Jake Schmidt, said the excavator was on the road and completely hidden by the fog. Additionally, there were no signs or lights around it. 

When Emily woke up, she saw Kayla in the passenger seat still unconscious. Emily immediately called their dad and called 9-1-1. Their father told KTVB he was able to get Emily out of the car.

Kayla was trapped with the airbags out and the corner of the excavator pressing in on the windshield. Once first responders arrived at the scene, Jake Schmidt said they cut the roof to get Kayla out.

Kayla broke her neck and damaged her spine. She is temporarily paralyzed, he said. 

Two days after the horrific crash, the Star community rallied behind the Schmidt family. Several hundred people showed up to a prayer vigil on Sunday night, praying for Kayla’s recovery.

Emily, who was released from the hospital late Friday night with a concussion, said she was overwhelmed with all the love.

“It’s just so inspiring to see so many people come together in a big group and pray over Kayla like this,” she said. “It seriously means the world to her and my family.”

The girls’ grandpa, Jim, agreed.

“It’s crazy … this many people showed up to pray for my granddaughters,” he said.

Emily said Kayla will most likely be in the ICU for the next two weeks. After that, the family is looking at rehabilitation options in Salt Lake City or Colorado. 

Their father told KTVB they are hopeful for Kayla’s recovery; Kayla is now breathing by herself and moved her arms and head on Sunday. 

Emily said Kayla is a fighter and that she can overcome anything.

“She is the most energetic, spunky, determined [person],” Emily said. “She’s been determined … just to get better and heal. She is working hard, she is fighting, she is giving it her all, and it’s just so inspiring to see that.”

Jim said the family is praying for a miracle. They have a GoFundMe fundraiser set up to help cover medical expenses.

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