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Family devastated but thankful after teen survives triple-fatal crash in Saline County

Updated: May. 30, 2021 at 2:37 PM CDT
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SALINE COUNTY. Kan. (KWCH) - Update Tuesday, June 1, 2021: For the first time since Sunday’s triple-fatal crash on Interstate 135 in Saline County, Eyewitness News hears from the families of three people involved. Phillip Hett, 39, his 11-year-old daughter, Abigail Hett, who were in one vehicle, died in the crash. The driver of the other vehicle, 24-year-old Christopher Giroux, was also killed.

There were four people involved in the two-vehicle crash. The lone survivor is Hett’s 13-year-old daughter, Jillian, The family said the teen recently had surgery and is expected to make a full recovery. While grateful for the girl’s improvement, the family is still in shock after losing two family members in the crash.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that they’re gone,” said family member Toby Peck. “It’s gonna be really hard when it finally does sink in.”

Phillip Hett was a pastor at the Bethany Village retirement community in Lindsborg. His brother said Phillip, who went by “Phil,” was beloved in the community.

“He touched a lot of lives,” Peck said.

He said Phil was “very, very likable” and the Lindsborg community is hurting.

Peck described 11-year-old Abigail, known as “Abby” as “fun,” “super smart” and “very talented.”

“It’s still not real yet,” he said. “It’s just so unimaginable that this happened. Everybody thinks this can’t happen to you and it’s just, it’s awful.”

While devastated, the family is thankful for the strangers who saved 13-year-old Jillian Hett.

“We’re lucky to have her,” Peck said. “It was a really bad wreck and some good Samaritans actually are the ones that pulled her out. And that’s why she’s with us. It’s amazing that anybody got out of there and she wouldn’t have had (it not) been for them.”

The family of Phillip and Abigail Hett is planning two funerals and asking for donations to cover funeral and medical expenses. Eyewitness News spoke with the mother of Abigail and Jillian Hett who said donations can be made to the Jillian and Abby Hett Fund through Farmers State Bank of Lindsborg, Kansas.

Update Monday, May 31, 2021: The Bethany Village Retirement community on Monday confirmed that its pastor was one of three people killed in a Sunday afternoon crash on Interstate 135 in Saline County. Phillip Hett, 39, and his 10-year-old daughter, Abigail, died from their injuries in the crash, as did the driver of the second vehicle involved. Hett’s 13-year-old daughter is receiving treatment for her injuries at a Wichita hospital.

“Please keep their family in your prayers and hold one another close as we all come to terms with this tragedy,” Bethany Village said in a Sunday night Facebook post.

The community said Phillip Hett, “Phil,” “was truly a wonderful man and a servant of our Lord.”

“I hope we can all honor him by supporting one another as he supported us through our hardest times. While there are no words for a time like this, let us all be grateful for having known this family, for the joy they brought into our lives, and for the caring they demonstrated toward others,” the statement from Bethany Village said.

Bethany Village issued the following statement, including information on honoring Phil and Abigail Hett and helping to support his family.

This tragedy has deeply impacted our community. We continue to work through our grief and are still making arrangements as we care for our residents and our work family. Pastor Phil was the person we would always turn to when facing losses, and now we must face this loss without his wisdom and guidance. Phil was the heart of our mission. He was kind, caring, compassionate, brilliant, funny, and loved by all who knew him. He brought joy to those around him on a daily basis and was always present to console those who were grieving. It is our hope that the Bethany Village family will carry on his legacy by being the light he was for us during difficult times. We are blessed by a strong faith and a strong work family. Our mission is focused on caring, and we will care for one another in the days ahead. We also will pray for Pastor Phil’s family, his daughter Jillian, and all who loved him. The faith he shared with us will carry us through even as we mourn the loss of a dear friend, a mentor, a leader, and a caregiver. In honor of Pastor Phil and Abigail, we have placed a memorial on our chapel altar and provided a memory book for staff to leave a message for the family. To celebrate the light Phil brought into our lives, we will leave the chapel lights on until he has been laid to rest. Many community members have begun accepting donations to support Phil’s family through this tragedy. Bethany Village would also be honored to accept any donations to be presented to Phil’s family. Checks may be written to “Bethany Home Association” with “Pastor Phillip Hett Memorial” written in the memo line.

Sunday, May 30, 2021: The Kansas Highway Patrol said three people died in a crash in Saline County. Troopers were called to the crash involving two vehicles at around 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The accident happened on I-135 near mile marker 82.

The victims of the crash have been identified as Christopher Giroux, 24, of Salina, Phillip Hett, 39, of Lindsborg, and Abigail Hett, 10.

A 13-year-old girl was taken to the hospital with suspected serious injuries.

KHP said two pickup trucks were involved in the accident. Officers said one of the trucks going northbound went through the median and hit the other truck traveling southbound head on.

The accident is still under investigation.

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