PHOENIX - Seventeen-year-old Derrick Holt remembers feeling the first jolt that nearly knocked him out of the bed of his family’s RV while his father was driving along the Loop 202 in Phoenix.
“I had convinced myself I had fallen asleep on the bed and it was just a nightmare that had been happening,” said Holt.
Holt was inside the RV with his four siblings and maternal grandparents. His father, Lee, was driving with his mother, Melissa, sitting next to her husband.
After the first jolt came a second and a third.
“Stuff was flying everywhere and then we veered back into the wall,” Holt said. "And the side of the RV scraped off and it's open air and insulation is flying everywhere.”
On Monday, the family was returning to their Buckeye home from a weekend camping trip in Show Low when a front tire blew out forcing the RV to crash into a highway median wall .
Amid the chaos, Derrick grabbed his 13-year-old brother, Noah, who was lying next to him on the bed, keeping Noah from flying out of the RV with the bed.
“I remember pulling him but I don't remember that instant, like as the bed was falling out, and he's like 'you saved my life' and I was like 'I don’t remember that.' I knew I grabbed him. I didn't know it was at that time.”
The impact from the crash also knocked Derrick’s brother Ryan, 11, and Hayden, 9, off of a couch inside the RV.
A short time later the sofa also ended up on the highway after being ripped out of the RV.
The RV continued to skid along the median for about 200 feet before stopping.
Despite wearing his seatbelt, Lee was thrown from the RV onto the highway. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Ryan, Noah, Derrick, and their 4-year-old sister, Isabella, only suffered minor injuries. Hayden remains in the hospital with internal injuries but is expected to survive.
Lee’s father, Joe, says he cannot believe no one else died in the crash after seeing the devastation.
“I'm not only surprised, it's an absolute miracle,” Joe said. “The only thing I can relate it to is the pictures you see on the news when a home has been destroyed by a tornado.”
Joe said his son loved sports and the outdoors but nothing was more important than his family.
“Never once did he put his family second. They were always first,” Joe said.
“[He was] just everything a father could ask for and hope that his son would grow up to be and it's just awful hard. By far, the most horrific worst experience of my life,” Joe added.
A memorial fund has been created at Wells Fargo bank for the benefit of Lee’s children.
Donations can be made to the Lee T. Holt Memorial Fund.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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