GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Despite her own grave injuries, a pregnant Michigan mother was only worried about her children after a pickup truck slammed into her vehicle Sunday afternoon, a witness told WXMI.
Valery Arreola, 21, and her two children were in a 1999 Nissan that stalled in the roadway when it was struck from behind by the truck. Arreola and the children were taken to the hospital, where Arreola and her unborn son later died. Her 3-year-old son was critically injured, but his 5-year-old brother escaped with only minor injuries.
Arreola had called her father — who heard the crash over the phone — to ask what she should do about her car when the accident happened, according to WOOD.
Minutes after the crash, a man jumped into action at the scene. Martin Junglas said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he heard a woman’s voice asking for help.
“I immediately ran up to the driver,” Junglas told WXMI.
That driver was Arreola, who was eight months pregnant.
“I was praying over Valery and she said ‘Are my children alright?'” Junglas said.
He says he looked around and saw someone else holding one of Valery’s children, and saw the other trapped inside the car.
“(I) saw her son … in the front seat hunched over,” Junglas recalls. “And I immediately ran over to him and picked him up and started breathing air into him. And on the third breath he started to breathe and started to moan.”
Junglas says the child’s feet were pinned in the vehicle and he couldn’t get him out.
“The fireman used the Jaws of Life to open the car up.”
Junglas says Arreola was pinned behind the steering wheel and only had one thing on her mind.
“Her only concern was for her children,” he said. “She didn’t care about her injuries or her pain. She just wanted to make sure her children were alright.”
It’s a sentiment Junglas can identify with. His own 9-year-old son was injured on New Year’s Day when a tree limb fell on him.
“My son was unresponsive,” he said. “And I breathed into him and he took a breath on the second breath.”
As his son recovers just doors down at the hospital from Arreola’s 3-year-old son, Martin says his heart out goes out to her family.
“I really had no idea that she was injured to the extent that she was,” Junglas said. “And later on I found out that she passed away and went to be with the Lord. But she knew as she passed away that her children were safe. I had told her that as I left the vehicle that her children were safe and would be okay.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Arreola’s family with both funeral and medical expenses.