For Bus Crash Survivor, Tyler Becomes Home

Sunday was a chance to say "thank you" for a family who came to think of Tyler as a second home. Jeremy DeShazo was one of the passengers on the church bus that crashed near Terrell last June 24, and spent almost a month in a coma in a Tyler hospital.

Sunday, the family came back to say thanks for the strangers who came to their rescue.

The DeShazo family was unfamiliar with Tyler when word came to them Jeremy had been life-flighted there.

"All I could think of was 'Oh Lord, why Tyler?'" Jeremy's mother Terri DeShazo admits. "I couldn't figure out, 'What's in Tyler? Roses?'"

The family came to love the Rose City, thanks to the kindness of its citizens. Jeremy took a moment to say thank you to the emergency personnel and surgeons who saved his life. Even for men who see tragedy as their jobs, they say that day stays with them still.

"It was traumatic to see that bus destroyed the way it was," Trinity Mother Frances pilot Ron Kellenbenz says. "I've never seen anything split down the middle like that bus was."

"The one thing that was unusual about it was the incident was on the TV before the patient arrived," Trinity Mother Frances trauma surgeon Dr. Errington Thompson says. "To be able to see that on the TV was very interesting and scary."

Terri spoke at Sunday's service at Westwood Baptist Church, pouring out her feelings and emotions about that time. She was truly touched by the way East Texas opened up to her family.

"The outpouring of love and support," she says, "People said if you need me, I'll be there, just call."

"It was so...needed," she says.

She took today to thank the Tyler businesses that donated rooms, and food, and anything else the family needed. Jeremy doesn't remember the days after the wreck, but he's still grateful for the people who helped his family and prayed for him.

"It's just amazing to see how many people prayed for me," Jeremy says. "I heard about it all, but to meet them was just mindboggling."

East Texans came out to support the family any way they could. Jeremy's trumpet was damaged in the crash. While doctors worked to save Jeremy, American Band Instrument of Tyler repaired his horn. He is now studying music education as a freshman at Richland College in Dallas.

"People from all walks of life came together to help this young man," trauma surgeon Dr. Luis Fernandez says. "I think it speaks volumes."

"It makes you proud to be a member of the community," Kellenbenz says.

Sunday, the DeShazo family came to a place they've never lived to come home to friends they've never known.

"This was our coming home today," Terri said, "Tyler became our second home."

Reid Kerr ( reporting.