Oak Harbor family mourns daughter killed in crash

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 NEWS

KING5.com

Posted on November 8, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 3:54 PM

OAK HARBOR, Wash. -- Pink and purple balloons line the streets of Oak Harbor - the two favorite colors of Janeah Goheen and her sister Janesah - intertwined as only twin sisters can be.

They are in remembrance of Janeah, who died in a horrific Halloween crash with a suspected drunk driver. Her twin sister Janesah is on life support in a medically induced coma, as doctors wait to determine her level of brain function.

"They were soul mates," said longtime family friend Karen TePaske. "What one was, the other wasn't and they made one amazing person." 

The thought of the 17-year-old sisters never seeing each other again is almost impossible for those who know them to comprehend.

"They would text my daughter, and they would be in different places texting the exact same thing," said TePaske.

The 17-year-old twins were on their way to Seattle last Thursday night to go to a haunted house with a friend when a suspected drunk driver crashed into their car on SR 20 near Anacortes. Their parents were out trick or treating with the grandkids when they got the call that one of their daughters was dead. Because they're twins, however, doctors didn't know which sister had passed away. The parents had to wait 12 agnonizing hours before finding out.

"It was as bad as you can imagine," said Ben Whittingham, the couple's son-in-law. "We're in a fog. It seems like we're just pulling ourselves out of one nightmare, and we find ourselves right back in another one."

It's a recurring nightmare for this family.  Another sister, 24-year-old Jessica, died five years ago in another car wreck.  Janesah still hasn't regained consciousness since her crash. If she does, she will wake up to a life without her other half.

"Nobody wants to have that conversation with her," said Whittingham.

For now, the family focuses on the happy times, the support from a loving community, and the hope that such dark days are never visited upon them again.

"All you have is your faith at times like this," said Whittingham. "I'd hate to be the family that doesn't have faith as their backbone."

Doctors are easing Janessa out of her coma and are "guardedly optimistic" about her recovery.

A public memorial service is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 16 at Oak Harbor High School. A fund for the family has been set up at Whidbey Island Bank branches.

 

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