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Father keeps an online diary of his daughter's inspiring recovery from near death after a Thanksgiving crash with a DUI driver that killed his wife
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By Lydia Warren
PUBLISHED: 16:10 EST, 18 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:14 EST, 18 February 2013
A father has been documenting the inspiring recovery his 12-year-old daughter has made from near death after an alleged drunk driver crashed into their family car, killing his wife.
Steve Nevil, his wife Katy and their two children, Lauren and Will, nine, were driving from Franklin, Tennessee to Arlington, Texas for Thanksgiving celebrations last year when they hit by the car.
The impact sent their vehicle crashing into trees along the highway near the Texas state line, immediately killing 38-year-old Katy and gravely injuring Lauren.
She was airlifted to hospital, where doctors learned she had suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken femur, three broken ribs, a collapsed lung and damage to her foot that cost her four toes.
Support: Steve Nevil has been documenting his daughter Lauren's amazing progress after they were in a car crash last Thanksgiving which claimed his wife's life and left Lauren severely injured
But amid losing their beloved mother and wife, the Nevil family has pulled through to show amazing determination, buoyed by communities in Texas and Tennessee, the Star Telegram reported.
Steve Nevil, 41, has focused on the needs of his son and his seriously hurt daughter, and now documents Lauren's startling recovery for their 180,000 supporters on Facebook.
He has shared videos of her sitting up unassisted for the first time, enjoying a few sips of a cherry-flavoured slushie and opening a Valentine's gift surrounded by her family and friends.
There have also been updates of her medical condition, from operations to her diet, to how she has slowly but surely regained normal sleeping patterns and her speech.
Tragic: An alleged drunk driver hit the family's car, forcing it into trees and Katy Nevil, 38, died instantly
Torn apart: Steve, his wife Katy and their children Lauren and Will were on their way to Thanksgiving dinner
'She laughed and smiled yesterday (day 71) for the FIRST TIME SINCE ACCIDENT!' Steve wrote on January 27, admitting that the moment moved him to tears.
In another upbeat post, he describes her drinking from the slushie and how everyone in the room at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth anxiously waited for her to react.
'It was kind of an awkward 10-15 seconds,' he wrote on a video. 'The room was dead silent as we were hoping the drink would go down fine without incident.
'Then in a very soft, subtle & sweet voice we hear - "man, that is really good." We all cracked up laughing and exhaled a sigh of relief! I say YouHooo.'
He has also written entries from his daughter's point of view, painting an emotional picture of her struggles and excitement at her progress.
Fighter: Lauren suffered a brain injury, a broken femur, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and lost four toes
Best care: She was transported to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth in December
'As of last night, daddy was able to use a "real" toothbrush and "training" toothpaste (that is okay to swallow),' he wrote on January 26 in his daughter's voice. 'It was so amazing how the smallest things makes the biggest difference & makes me feel so much better at that particular time.'
In response to the entries, friends, relatives and strangers have posted their own comments of well-wishes and encouragement to the family.
Last month, they held a fundraiser inspired by Lauren's nickname - Lolo Palooza - and 550 people helped raise $24,000 at the Grease Monkey in Arlington.
'I hope to keep this going for years to come because Lauren will need help for a long period of time to heal with her injuries,' said organiser and family friend MK Davis.
Friends have also helped organise fundraising walks in Dallas-Fort Worth and Franklin, where the family has become well known and well-liked.
Progress: Steve has documented Lauren's operations, her first smiles, meals and words since the accident
Upbeat: The community has also rallied around the Nevils, who had just moved states before the accident
'You instantly felt like you'd known them your entire life' Mark Moorman, a friend of the family, told ABC. 'They were very welcoming, warm, loving people.'
Katy Nevil's brother, Jimmy Brimson, said the family is encouraged and supported by the community.
'It's mind-blowing to see all of the cards and notes from people not just in the U.S. but from all over the world,' he said. 'It's easy to be cynical in today's world, but this outpouring of love, prayers and support makes you realise that there are still a whole lot of good people in this world.'
Mr Nevil said he believes people have been so generous thanks to his wife's contagious positivity.
Missed: Mr Nevil said he believes the community is being so generous as his late wife's positivity was infectious. Katy Nevil is pictured left with her husband and right with Lauren
Looking forward: Steve said he is now focused on his daughter's recovery and making sure his son does not grow up too quickly following their family's tragedy
'Katy always, always, always, without question, always helped whoever she could,' he said. 'She relentlessly cared for other people. I truly think that passion she had in her heart is being reciprocated.'
He added to the Star Telegram that he finds it ironic that he is doing so much writing on the Facebook group as his wife, a certified teacher, always handled business or correspondence.
He said that he is unsure about his daughter's long-term prognosis, but he's staying positive - as his wife would wish.
'When I'm alone, it's easy to ask, "Why me?"' he said. 'But I know that's not how Katy would see it.'
For more information, visit the family's Facebook page.