“I introduced myself to the other ladies, the van door closed, and off they went,” recalls Denise Bailey, the daughter-in-law of 78-year-old Doris Bailey-Gill, who died Saturday morning in a deadly car crash.
Denise wished Doris and her five friends good-bye as they set off for a sorority luncheon near the Salton Sea, not knowing it would be the last time she ever saw her.
“Things like this don’t happen to us. I don’t know why, it’s absolutely unexpected,” said Denise.
All five valley women were killed in Saturday’s crash, when their van drove right into the path of an on-coming Ford F150 truck on highway 86 and Brawley Avenue.
The other victims, longtime friends and Beta Sigma Phi sorority sisters, were 76-year old Deanna Anderson, 80-year-old Nancy Sliger, 87-year-old Mona Mertens, and 84-year-old Jeri Alford.
Now their families and closest friends are trying to come to terms with their sudden deaths.
“I don’t think I’ve ever in my life had something like this where I knew them all and they were friends and I’ll miss them all,” said Carol Hart, who was in Beta Sigma Phi with the women, and a close friend of Doris.
Wayne Bailey visited the site of his mother’s crash Monday morning looking for closure.
“She’s in a better place and she’s with all her friends,” he said. “It just all hasn’t sunk in yet.”
The Bailey’s say the only thing that has brought them comfort is hearing from the sixth passenger of the van, who survived. 75-year-old Kathleen Gratz was airlifted from the scene of the crash to Desert Regional Medical Center.
“She broke her ribs and her arms are broke, but she’s expected to get out by the end of the week,” Denise said.
“I’m grateful that one survived so we could get more closure,” Wayne said.