Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mistaken Identity

A while back I posted on the four Taylor University students who were killed in an auto accident. One of the girls in the car survived but went into a coma.

Now Taylor University has issued this statement:

This morning, we learned from the Grant County Coroner's Office that there has been a case of mistaken identity involving two of the young women involved in the accident. We had believed that Laura VanRyn was airlifted to Parkview Hospital and has recently begun to emerge from the coma she was in since the night of the accident. The Coroner's office has notified us that Laura was instead one of the five people who died that evening and that it was Whitney Cerak who was airlifted to Parkview and is today convalescing at a hospital in Grand Rapids, MI.

One can only imagine what impact this new development has had upon the VanRyn and Cerak families as they process this information. Taylor University is cooperating fully with the Coroner's Office.

We ask that prayers be offered for the VanRyn and Cerak families, and also for the families of Laurel Erb, Monica Felver, Brad Larson, Betsy Smith, as well as the Taylor Community including students, faculty, staff and administrators deeply affected by this development.

The family of Laura has been keeping a blog, providing updates. This afternoon, they posted this entry:
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebwrews 13:8

What may come to us as a shock, does not shock the One who made us. We have some hard news to share with you today. Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers, Whitney Cerak. There was a misidentification made at the time of the accident and it is uncanny the resemblence that these two women share. Their body types are similar, their hair color and texture, their facial features, etc. Over the past couple of days, as Whitney had been becoming more aware of her surroundings, she'd been saying and doing some things that made us question whether or not she was Laura. Yesterday, we talked with a Spectrum staff member and began the process of making a positive ID. We now know without a doubt, that this is Whitney.

The Cerak family came down from Gaylord and we had the privelege of meeting with them this morning. While we discussed some of the action steps that will need to take place over the next couple of days, we were also able to share with them some of the great things we have seen Whitney accomplish over the past month. It is a sorrow and a joy for us to learn of this turn of events. For us, we will mourn Laura's going home and will greatly miss her compassionate heart and sweetness while knowing that she is safe and with her King forever. We rejoice with the Ceraks, that they will have more time on this earth with their daughter, sister, and loved one.

We also want to thank you for your prayers for our family as well as the other families during these past few weeks. Your love and support have been amazing. It is our hope that the Cerak's would continue this blog in Whitney's name so that we may continue to pray with them for Whitney as she recovers. Please continue to check this site and we will let you know about this possibility.

We will also use this site to communicate our plans for a memorial service for Laura. Hopefully, this service will take place this coming Sunday.

Thanks again for the support that you've been. Please continue your prayers. Our God is good and continues to be our help, our guide, our comfort.

We love you Sweets.

Posted by Lisa, for the Van Ryn family.

Please pray for these families--both going through different emotions of deep joy and deep sorrow.

The Fort Wayne newspaper has a fuller story on how this happened.

The families have issued a joint statement.