Stephen Arends, Bonnie Arends, and Randal Arends

Recorded October 12, 2008 Archived October 12, 2008 42:21 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY004593


Bonnie Arends, Stephen Arends and Randal Arends talks about the car accident that killed Stephen’s twin brother, Greg, and left Stephen with a traumatic brain injury after being in a coma for 6 months.

Subject Log / Time Code

Bonnie, Randal and Stephen describe the day that Greg and Stephen got in the car accident. “It seemed like just an average day.”
Bonnie and Stephen talk about the relationship between twin brothers Stephen and Greg. It was a good relationship with some differences between them. Stephen says, “You don’t know what you’ll miss until it’s gone.”
What Stephen have been through on his road to recovery. “It’s amazing what we all take for granted,” Stephen says.
Randal, Bonnie and Stephen talk about the ways in which Stephen is helping others by talking about the accident publicly.
A symbol of Stephen’s recovery: An antique tractor that Stephen has now restored after the accident.


  • Stephen Arends
  • Bonnie Arends
  • Randal Arends

Partnership Type



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00:00 The Q

00:06 I'm Randall Aaron's my I'm 46 years old today is October 12th 2008. We are in Peoria, Illinois.

00:18 And I am a husband and father.

00:23 I am Bonnie Aaron's and I am 46 years old. Today is October 12th 2008 and we are in Peoria, Illinois, and I am wife to Randy and Mom to Steve Van Doren.

00:53 I am so sorry.

01:01 And

01:27 And 9 a.m.

01:38 Doing

01:43 + 9

01:49 Bay Area rain

01:58 Whenever you're ready.

02:03 Hayward going to talk a little bit about our sons Steve and Greg when they were seniors in high school. They were involved in a serious car accident in which Greg was killed and his twin brother. Steve was seriously injured and

02:26 Spent six months in a coma and the last five years recovering from that accident and

02:37 What changes that's made in our lives since then?

02:43 I get off.

02:45 Think back on the day that that all happened it was January 17th and Steve. I do you remember anything at all about that morning before you left for school? You were getting ready for school high school. It was the last day of first semester, which meant it was yearbook picture day. And and I I just remembered that you guys were running a little late because you were you had to run and get your FFA jackets for the pictures and and we were kidding around at the kitchen table.

03:44 And do you remember what I told you about when dad was a senior in high school yearbook day.

04:00 And my

04:22 Well, he made his way into the pictures of all the organizations, but dear were you in or all of the organization's remember telling you guys have fun with this? This is this is your last year book day and have fun and so you're right. It was a normal day and I I remember you guys putting on your seat belts in the car and and I always would say be careful.

04:59 But but then I know your dad remembers a lot more from that point on.

05:08 I know I always go out for work about the time I farm and they would head off for school and I got to work and that morning was just seem like a regular day and they headed out and about five minutes after that. I heard the fire siren go off in town and

05:28 I just had a real bad feeling that something that happened. So I kind of want to see which way the fire trucks went and they were headed in the direction that you guys usually had the school and I just

05:43 Really felt uneasy and I kept waiting for my cell phone to ring and all the boys to call and say what I like.

05:51 We had an accident and everything's fine. And we're going to head off to school and about 20 minutes after that sheriff's car pulled in and

06:04 They told me that there's been a serious accident that we need to get to the hospital immediately.

06:11 I & II School how bad was it and they said bad?

06:15 So we hurried up and got in the car and we had to drive past the accident site on the way to the hospital and we could see their car and run off the road and hit a power pole on the side and with that moment. We just

06:36 News at least 100 men killed if not both of them because it was there was serious damage to the car and we just

06:49 All I could do is say well. We know they're in God's hands and what happens happens, and we just and you really do.

07:16 Hey.

07:22 I just remember.

07:25 You know seeing that and we thought our lives were changing because you guys were seniors and we thought the empty nest was happening and and looking at that car and not knowing if either of you would survive it was it was?

07:47 Does devastating I just I just remember reaching over and holding your dad's hand and just saying, you know, we we have been so blessed.

08:00 What's 17 years with you guys and and yet your dad squeezed my hand and said we are still blessed because we knew we knew that no matter what that that God was in control and easy.

08:34 I mean it wasn't bumpy until that crash.

09:07 Laying

09:11 1

09:21 I remember driving up to the hospital and and seen two ambulances sitting at outside the emergency room door and and just being so devastated knowing that you know each one of those carry.

09:39 My son's and and and walking in the hospital doors and seeing all the people that you know, all your neighbors and friends that work at the hospital. She remember the first person we saw in the hospital.

09:58 I remember seeing a member of our church.

10:02 Remember seeing Dave.

10:05 And um and just looking in people's eyes and seeing this incredible pain that they were

10:14 They were suffering right alongside us.

10:19 Fairy

10:33 The doctor that delivered you and Greg was the doctor that came to came up to us and said Greg was gone.

10:53 There are

10:57 I know the general and Bad Brains.

11:36 When when you guys were?

11:39 Growing up you were always close but I have memories of what you would do even when you were in high school.

11:50 At night when you both would get home from dates or jobs and you'd go out in the backyard.

11:57 Remember when you would do that?

12:05 Rain bomb

12:24 Wayne

12:30 Damn

12:47 And no ma'am. I will rain.

13:16 You guys had a really unique relationship and seem like you guys were very independent and they had different interests and

13:26 Different aspirations, but you're each other's best friend and

13:30 You're both very independent, man.

14:08 Is some pain.

14:12 I know.

14:22 Bullet train

14:45 Yeah, you say about the boys different interests. I remember Greg like loud music he liked and Steve liked his country music and and Greg liked his he he like Fast import cars, right and you like

15:12 King sham being blonde

15:44 Being

15:58 Vaughn Gillen rain time

16:12 Do you remember both of you when Greg and Steve were born and what that was like having twins?

16:21 Well, yeah, it was so exciting because you know, they were our first and then only children and and so I think we would have been bored with just one baby and and it was a very difficult pregnancy. And and at one point we were we were in danger of losing three of us. But so that made their birth all that much more precious and and I remember holding Steve and and we we had talked about names but we just we we would not name our sons until we could hold them in our arms and they were small they were they were little guys because they were born early Steve was under 6 lb and Greg was under 4 lb that I'll never forget looking into Steve size and and

17:20 Naming him Stephen and looking into Greg size and then chest Greg was like a miniature version of Steve. He was such a tiny little baby and Steve was little too but he look big compared to Greg and it was fun having twin boys. And I we were talking that in this time of year in October. I I was thinking about all the times we would go camping and from the time that that you guys would take your tricycles remember riding around the campground and tricycles.

18:16 But you always went fast if it was a tricycle you went as fast as you could go on a tricycle.

18:37 But we had fun memories of camping doing things together coughing as a family Sunday afternoon golf.

18:49 Gasa outings

18:52 Battelle

18:54 Yeah, that's a good memories.

18:58 I just saying ma'am.

19:12 Huge or I am

19:20 410 and Blanco

19:41 We want

19:53 Kejuan Galloway Dam

20:11 And give me

20:28 Hello.

20:38 In trouble

20:40 Oh my

20:53 Reman and Wayne

21:11 Being

21:14 See-through and gas

21:51 Grains

21:55 Do you have

22:21 What one of you didn't think up the other one would you know you guys had quite a track record of taking risks and pushing limits and gasoline in the Super Soaker ramps with your bicycles and you know as parents we really but as parents when it came to driving.

22:58 We were scared.

23:00 In a normal sort of way that parents of teenagers are but and always we thought your farm Boys you've been driving since you were young and you surely will be good driver in so we

23:34 No.

23:39 And Greg was always thought he was a good driver and

23:44 He was all these kids at new cars inside out and then some he was very very into cars and knowing all about them.

23:57 So I love you and and he knew you was about.

24:46 I King

24:50 Yep.

24:53 Well, I know that he he he knew how to drive and he knew how to drive fast and

25:04 And that's why literally one people when your friends drove by the car crash.

25:14 They even came up to us in the hospital. And so they can't be Greg's too good of a driver. This can't happen this kind of happen because he was known as a good driver fast driver, but he was also known as a good driver.

25:37 Blonde

25:40 It didn't prevent us.

25:55 Man

26:01 And then

26:07 And sori, I'm bored.

26:17 Alright done, but most people don't consider 79 miles an hour is

26:28 Excessive speeding these days, but all it takes is one thing going wrong combination with

26:38 Going too fast and

26:41 Dog

27:02 And

27:07 I'm bad.

27:12 You know, I guess if we think about you know, what's happened since then and and you know that the car crash.

27:24 Took break from us but it also.

27:28 Took so many of your abilities away from you Steve and and

27:39 Hey, can I buy wire?

27:57 Amazing how to make

28:08 Trying on jeans

28:14 I am a quick it happened and how long it takes to recover from me.

28:28 What?

28:29 But have you been through since the accident in this road to recovery? What have you recovered?

28:41 Do you want Dad to being in a wheelchair and age teens?

29:09 And no blinds.

29:16 And I'm going to do every pains.

29:30 Mom, I

29:36 Raining

29:41 Dangs man

29:53 I'm I

29:59 Down I want well Steve you went from a coma for six months to waking up and not being able to move your finger and working hard just to be able to move a finger to making a sound every

30:44 Hey.

30:47 And playing every day.

31:02 Being in a can

31:17 Yeah, it's 6 months after the accident. You were basically told you rent a wheelchair and on a feeding tube and barely breathing without a break and the doctor saying well, this is probably As Good As It Gets.

31:34 2

31:36 Five years later being

31:39 Walking and actively farming raising beef cattle and

31:46 What's up?

31:51 OurTime

31:53 Going around to High School's talking to teenagers about safe driving and

32:01 Taking responsibility and that being real passion for you.

32:06 It's funny to see that you know in spite of reliving our story in front of the high school that you grew up playing varsity basketball in front of being able to share your story and and have the kids in the school take your story and actually win a national competition for safe driving.

32:36 I

32:44 In my life

32:55 Now and doing

33:13 Orange and

33:34 I know they're there were literally students that stopped and and put on seat belts before they went driving and their lives were saved because of you speaking to them and challenging them to do that and make that a habit and and I I guess is a mom too. And it's it's something that we don't ever want to see any other parent go through. We don't want to see another parent lose a child and we don't want to see another parent walk alongside a child. That's

34:18 Injured so severely that it has lifelong consequences.

34:52 Hey.

35:01 Watching Steve

35:05 What are some of the things that he says that inspire you?

35:11 I think just seeing him get up in front of.

35:14 Hundreds and hundreds of high school students and saying how important it is that they make good decisions and that he never wants to see any of them and up in the situation. Then he's in and look at you know, how I'm struggling to speak and do things and I don't ever want to see any of you have to go through this.

35:49 Well, you know and I think of of you Steve and and your dad going out and doing the assemblies in the schools now, and I I just wonder if there are times when the veil of Heaven is thin enough that Greg can see

36:25 EBay

36:29 I seen that I want big and strong and

37:10 I am I am.

37:24 Brain

37:48 It's one thing for the kids to see statistics. It's another thing to realize that it's not only the kids that get killed in accidents. It's

37:59 People like you that are seriously injured and spending three months in a rehab hospital and seeing teenager after teenager that

38:09 Are if they survive will never get out of wheelchair the rest of their life and how

38:28 Yeah.

38:46 And it's encouraging to see

38:50 The statistics at in the state of Illinois. They increased rules for teen drivers and had people like Steve going around talking to kids has cut the fatality rate of teens in half. So it's encouraging to see that all these things are making a difference.

39:13 And you know, I I am thankful that even though we aren't going to see Greg.

39:23 On this side of life. We are going to see him again and we'll be together my heart.

39:54 Make sure I ask.

39:55 Inside a picture of the red tractor and I know you said it was symbolic. I would love for Randall to tell me why it's symbolic to the family.

40:06 That was a antique tractor that Steven started restoring for kind of for an FFA project before the accident happened and it was in our shop in pieces the day of the accident and

40:23 I just sat there for several years and I thought it was something that was never going to get finished. But that was one of the first things Steve did when is he able to get back out in the shop? Cuz he was going to finish that tractor and he did he got finished and painted and restored and was able to lead a parade of antique tractors with the radio host from Chicago.

40:55 At a Statewide tractor drive. So I was a real accomplishment to get the hang of things being torn down and yet being able to be rebuilt and used in a in a new and exciting.

41:35 Text Rachel.

41:40 I'm just so thankful that we know that someday we're going to see Craig and Sunday Steve's going to talk without any struggle and walk without any struggle because we know that someday we'll all be made perfect. And that's that's a hope that that keeps me keeping on time.

42:11 Is