Family prays for miracle after evening walk ends in tragedy

They're three little blessings that made the Thomas family whole. But Friday afternoon, a quick walk down a quiet, rural road changed everything in an instant.

Lacey Thomas was walking along the edge of Neff Lake Road around 5 p.m. Friday. She was pulling her youngest, 1-year-old Spencer, in a wagon behind her. Four-year-old Ava was directly behind her and 6-year-old Tana was to her side, away from the road.

Family friend Jennifer Ketola says what happened next is a blur.

"She says she remembers the wagon handle hitting the backside of her and her landing on the windshield, flying through the air, and then landing on her back," Ketola said Monday.

Florida Highway Patrol says 26-year-old William Perkins was driving down the opposite side of the road, but became distracted by a cigarette and swerved, hitting the family from behind. Lacey, Ava, and Spencer were rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital in critical condition. Ava died from her injuries over the weekend.

Ketola remembers the 4-year-old's bright smile and playful spirit.

"Oftentimes, when her parents would put her to bed and tuck her in, they'd tell her not to drag her toys out after they tucked her in. Usually she'd get up and get all of her little toys out and surround herself with them on the bed," she smiled.

Lacey was released from the hospital, but still has more medical hurdles. Spencer is still at St. Joseph's in critical condition. His father says he's on a breathing machine and his liver and kidneys were ruptured in the accident. They're by his bedside, praying for a miracle to protect their little boy.

"Family was everything. They're one of the most loving, tight-knit families," Ketola said.

The oldest child, Tana, was not seriously hurt but did witness the entire accident.

The driver, William Perkins, is still in custody at the Hernando County Detention Center. He's facing three counts of driving without a license with death or injury. His next court date is scheduled for April 26.

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