Older brothers Tonny and Johnny drove from New Hampshire to Atlantic City to surprise their sisters.
A 12-year-old girl was the sole survivor of a car crash that killed three of her siblings. Michelle Khiev spoke out about the tragedy and said she wished she could save her siblings who died in the car crash. Michelle was traveling with her older brothers, Tonny, 31, and Johnny, 27, and her 14-year-old sister Keo, when their vehicle hit a toll booth on the Atlantic City Expressway, before going up in flames, said the New Jersey State Police. The exact cause of the crash hasn't been determined yet and remains under investigation by the New Jersey State Police, reported PEOPLE.
"I was just scared and scared for everyone in the car," recalled Michelle about the crash. Immediately after the crash, a fire broke out in the car and Michelle opened the door and got out. The 12-year-old looked for her sister but that side of the car was covered in fire. "I looked to my left to where my sister was sitting and the fire was blocking it," Michelle told local KYW-TV. Michelle stumbled out of the car and walked a few paces but almost immediately turned to go back for her siblings. She was the youngest of them at 12 and her instinct was to save them. A pastor named Wil Del Valle saw her walking back to the car engulfed in flames and rushed to pull her away, saving her life. The car exploded seconds later. She was largely unhurt.
Johnny and Tonny were visiting their little sisters from New Hampshire to surprise them for the holiday weekend. They were on their way back home to drop off their sisters after a day full of shopping and dinner. Unfortunately, it was their best and last Christmas as a family. A GoFundMe campaign was started to help with the family's expenses regarding the funeral and in terms of helping with Michelle's future. "I got out of the car in time before it exploded. I am safe. But I wish I could say the same about my brothers and sister. I love and miss Tonny, Johnny, and Keo so much," wrote Michelle on GoFundMe, which has raised nearly $70,000.
She also thanked the pastor for saving her life. "Thank you to Pastor Wil for helping me and keeping me from running back to the car to save my sister Keo. He saved my life," she wrote. The pastor gave his own account of the tragedy on Facebook, with the permission of the Khiev family. Del Valle was driving home with his wife when he noticed a fire had broken out. "We got to the toll booth to pay and I asked 'Hey is everyone okay?' The toll collector kept saying 'Oh my god, oh my god, I don't know a car just hit the toll booth,'" he wrote. He then "noticed a girl walking away from the burning car."
"When we tried to get her to walk but she continued to stumble so I picked her up into my arms and ran to the toll booth offices. I kept saying 'It's okay' and she continued to repeat 'No it's not, my brothers and sister are in the car,'" he recalled. "I won't forget the sounds or smells, and I won't forget this brave 12-year-old girl who got out of the car, and was desperately thinking of her family. She wanted them out of the car but she did all she could."
Tonny and Johnny were born in Cambodia and came to America when they were very young. They were in-home care providers for people with disabilities. Their sister Mimi Khiev was not in the vehicle. Referring to the trip to meet their sisters, Mimi wrote, "Unfortunately, it was their best and last Christmas as a family." She described her brothers as caring people. "They both had a huge heart and were full of life. They touched so many people's lives and deserved so much more life than they got. They fought so many battles and smiled through it all. They both had aspirations of opening up a donut shop and moving their whole family to live with them in New Hampshire," wrote Mimi.
Cover Image Source: YouTube screenshot/CBS Philly