ST. CLAIR, Pa. - Two young sisters who were tragically killed in a car accident on Palm Sunday are helping other children live long lives.
"You're never ever prepared for anything like this is life," said Mary Place, the older sister of Victoria Place and aunt of Victoria's two daughters, Carianna Kroh and Catrina Williams.
Victoria and her daughters were leaving their church on Route 61 in West Brunswick Twp., Schuylkill Co., when their car was hit by another car, state police said.
Mary Place said she first heard about the crash from a friend, but she had a hard time believing that her sister and her two nieces were involved. Reality struck, Place said, when she logged onto Facebook.
"Schuylkill County has a police activity page, and I happened to look at it. I knew in my heart of hearts it had to be her. I called her cell phone and I was texting her and typically she would answer," said Mary Place.
When Mary Place and her family arrived at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown, she said things only got worse. Carianna, 6, died shortly after being flown to the hospital; Catrina, 3, died Monday.
The girls' mother survived, but she remains hospitalized.
"She and the girls' fathers have made the wonderful decision to have the girls be organ donors and holding onto the fact that a part of her girls will always be with somebody and be on this Earth," said Mary Place.
"Carianna had her eyes donated. Her eyes have already been transplanted into a little boy who has never seen before, and now he can. Those are thing things that she's holding onto," said Mary Place.
As for Catrina, parts of her kidney, lung and heart were transplanted in other children.
Through it all, Mary Place said her sister is finding great comfort from the overwhelming support she has received from the community.
"We're all trying to rally together, just be with her and let her know she is nothing but loved, and those girls were nothing but loved," said Mary Place.
A fund to help the family is being set up at Union Bank and Trust Company as well as through M&T Bank under the name "Victoria Place Children's Memorial Fund."
Allentown, PA 18102