When a car crash killed her sister Emily, Haily Clark was left with a huge hole in her life. But when Emily later appeared to Haily in a dream, the teen became certain that Emily had left behind an all-important cell phone. And if found, the phone could bring the grieving family a great deal of comfort.
Emily Clark, from Powder Springs, Georgia, was studying to become a nurse at Georgia Southern University. But when she wasn’t studying, 20-year-old Emily also loved spending time with her family and her boyfriend Neal Hollis.
What’s more, people would often see the fun-loving student, phone in hand, snapping away as she spent quality time with her loved ones. Yes, it seemed that Emily was keen to capture as many happy memories as possible so that she could relive them at a later date. And so she photographed almost everything – from her first days at university to down time with her family.
By April 2015, Emily had almost completed her training course at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah. And on the final day of their placement, Emily joined fellow students Abbie Deloach, Morgan Bass, Caitlyn Baggett and Catherine Pittman on a journey to the hospital. However, they never made it to their shift.
The five girls had risen early on Wednesday April 22, 2015, and set off in two cars. But, 20 miles out of Savannah, tragedy struck. Both cars were involved in a seven-vehicle pile-up that claimed all five students’ lives.
Reportedly, the crash occurred when a tractor trailer hit an SUV, sending that vehicle into other cars. Of course, the awful news sent shockwaves through the community in Atlanta. “The loss of any student, especially in a tragic way, is particularly painful. Losing five students is almost incomprehensible,” Georgia Southern University President Brooks Keel said.
But it was those closest to the girls who hurt the most. Shortly after the tragedy, Emily’s boyfriend wrote on Facebook, “I simply ask that you please continue to pray for her family and the other families affected by this event. And once again, thank you for all of your prayers. I am blessed and loved more than I could ever imagine.”
Meanwhile, Emily’s mom Kathy, dad Craig and sister Haily were also battling to come to terms with their loss. But in the weeks following her sister’s death, Haily couldn’t shake the feeling that Emily had left something behind. And then she had a strange dream.
Recalling her dream, a tearful Haily later told Inside Edition, “I could see [Emily’s] phone and it was at the crash site. Everything had been picked up, it was after we had gone and I just wanted to find it.”
However, her parents thought little of Haily’s dream. They were doubtful that Emily’s phone could have survived the crash. “Her sister kept saying her phone is there,” mom Kathy told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We said, ‘No, it got destroyed.’”
Still, in an attempt to put their grieving daughter’s mind to rest, the Clarks visited the site of the crash on Interstate 16. But when they looked around, they did not find the phone. However, Haily refused to give up hope. Speaking of her dream, she said, “I know that was Emily saying, ‘My phone is still alive.’”
Then, five months after Emily’s death, something incredible happened. Amazingly, the family’s lawyer called to inform them that the police had released some of Emily’s things from the site of the tragedy. And among them was a cell phone with a turquoise case.
As soon as they laid eyes on the device, the Clarks recognized it. “We just knew by looking at it,” Kathy Clark said. And, even more amazingly, the phone barely had a scratch on it. In fact, it was in perfect working order.
Naturally, the discovery has proved priceless to Emily’s family. After all, they were able to read the final messages sent to the student, including the poignant panicked texts her phone had received on the morning of her death. However, on a happier note, hundreds of photographs documenting their daughter’s life also filled the cell phone.
“It brings joy to our hearts,” dad Craig explained. “She came alive,” he added as he recalled looking through his late daughter’s joyful images and videos. Yes, the phone was able to provide a small amount of comfort to the family in one of their darkest hours.
Among the special memories that Emily captured are one time when the family came to visit her at university. There were also some photos that the Clarks had not seen before. Combined, the images helped bring into focus a clear image of the happy, confident and vibrant young woman who had been taken away too soon.
The return of Emily’s phone, mixed with the support that the Clarks received from their community, helped the family come to terms with their loss. “It’s just remarkable, and it’s all because of the people she affected through her life,” said her mom. “She’s even affecting people she didn’t know. That helps us get through.”
There is also some comfort in the fact that Emily’s academic legacy will live on. For instance, Emily was a top pupil and keen cheerleader at Harrison High School. Therefore, the school has set up a scholarship in her name.
Kathy’s faith has also helped Emily’s family through such a hard time. “God doesn’t make mistakes,” the mom said. “He knew that day he was taking them. And he knew that they had jobs they would still be doing.”
So while it’s fair to say that life will never be the same for the Clarks again, they have at least found some peace in the fact that Emily’s legacy will live on. And while their daughter was snatched from them way too soon, they’re happy to have the memories captured on her phone.