On Friday, October 6, Katie Evans Santa Clarita, California made one of countless long drives to visit her infant twin daughters at UCLA hospital. Born in August nearly 15 weeks early, Evans spent every possible moment at their side.
Late in the evening, Evans said goodbye to the girls and began the drive home to her husband, Jacob, and their four young sons. Less than a mile from home, Evans was involved in a crash too horrific for description. Although the investigation is still underway, the other driver was allegedly intoxicated.
It is believed Evans died instantly.
Interviewed by phone, Evans’s husband, Jacob, described the longest and most agonizing night of his life. When his wife hadn’t returned home in a reasonable amount of time, he became worried. After calls to friends and the hospital, he drove the route she would’ve taken home and in a matter of minutes was face to face with a police barricade.
The next few hours marched by like exhausted soldiers. Friends and members of his church family filled his home until finally, at 5:30 a.m., the coroner knocked on his door with one hand and held Katie’s driver’s license with the other.
“The first thing I thought was how do I tell my boys,” Evans said. Later that morning, when the moment was right, Evans gathered the three older boys for a family meeting. Evans led a discussion about God’s plan for his children. “Then I told them that God had asked them to exercise faith in (his) plan. I said their mother had been killed. The boys cried their little hearts out and I was so glad to have so many friends there to hug and hold them.”
As Evans considers his wife’s legacy, he knows it’s rooted in forgiveness. He has no doubt Katie would want friends and family to forgive the other driver. Evans says life is too short for anything other than letting go and moving on.
In fact, when he heard that since Katie’s passing some within his company were expressing anger and frustration, Evans wrote an open letter to the employees. It read:
“Obviously this is a difficult time for me and my family. It has been more difficult as I have heard that some are angry with the driver who killed my wife. Katie would not have wanted that. She was the embodiment of compassion. The hateful activities reported in the news recently troubled her greatly. She felt there was already too much anger in the world. I want you to know that I forgive the driver of that accident. Of course I am sorry that it happened. Of course I wish I could go back in time and change it, but we are all best served by moving forward with today’s reality and the best way to move forward is to honor Katie’s memory and focus on how to take care of her six children. Trials and tribulation are mandatory. Misery is optional. Happiness is a choice, sometimes a difficult choice. I confess I feel little in the way of happiness at the moment, but I am determined to be as happy as I can be and for now that is found in my profound gratitude to a generous and supportive community for the love they have wrapped around me and my family during this challenging time.”
As our interview ended, I asked Jacob Evans what final message he had for my readers. “Katie wasn’t perfect. No one is. But if you want to honor Katie, do what she did every day of her life. Go find a way to make the world a little better.”
And what better way to start than exercising a little forgiveness.