BILLINGS — A rollover crash in the Billings Heights on Tuesday has left a Wyoming family picking up the pieces with a long road to recovery ahead.
The family of four from Sheridan was traveling in an SUV and was struck by a BMW that witnesses claim was going upwards of 70 mph.
The Layhers were in Billings to attend a sleep study for their son at Billings Clinic on Wednesday. But those plans quickly changed when the family's vehicle was hit by another vehicle on Main Street.
To make matters even worse, the family was at Pizza Ranch in the Heights celebrating their son's 12th birthday. When they left the restaurant, disaster struck.
Kurt Layher, the father, told MTN News on Thursday during a telephone interview that he wasn't aware of what exactly happened following the crash until he watched MTN's coverage of the incident. Kurt Layher is still in the hospital and is expected to have surgery on Friday.
“I was really disappointed when I heard the report because I actually got my information for what happened in the accident from your news story," Layher said. "When I hear them talk about how the people that did this, ‘Oh, they learned their lesson, they won’t do this again,’ I don’t see it. If they were the type that would have learned the lesson from this, they would have had insurance on the car. They wouldn’t have made a decision that is going to determine how the rest of our lives go."
MTN attempted to request an interview with the Layher family on Wednesday for the initial story, but was unable to make contact until Thursday.
Layher said he was taken to a different hospital than his wife following the crash.
“I haven’t even been able to see my wife yet, they took us to two different hospitals. They have not even allowed - because of my injuries - I can’t get to see her. We’re not even in the same hospital,” Layher said. “It’s going to be weeks before I’m able to, you know, see her."
And the crash will have lasting impacts on the family.
"My daughter is 15 and has her learner’s permit. She refuses to drive anymore, even though it’s only been two days, she refuses," Layher said. "And that’s not something that’s going to change overnight."
The driver who caused the crash was reportedly a teenager who had two teenage passengers in the car.
Amanda Anthony, the mother of one of the passengers in the BMW, told MTN News on Wednesday, "They just made the wrong decision and got the worst of the consequences. I just want everybody to know these kids learned their lesson." Anthony also claimed emergency personnel told her the Layher family would be “just fine”.
“I can’t think of any more severe penalty than my wife who broke every rib on the left side of her body. She’s got a broken pelvis, broken scapula, she’s got fractures in her back, plus an internal organ laceration. She’s going to be up here for weeks," Layher said. “I’m a little bit disappointed that, when I read the story and they said, ‘Oh, they’re going to be just fine,’ well, going to be? Maybe. We are not just fine. And it’s not tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day."
Layher has a message for those commenting negatively on social media posts.
“The kids in that car, stop vilifying them. It doesn’t do anybody good," Layher said. "They will have consequences for their actions, hopefully. I hope it’s not just a slap on the wrist."
He would also like to thank emergency personnel for their timely response. Kurt Layher was the last one to be rescued from the vehicle, and said he was only in there for about 20 minutes.
The family does not have a donation fund set up at the time, but MTN will provide continuing coverage as they recover and will provide updates if a fund is set up.
"A little tiny car hit our great big SUV, and they had to cut us out of the vehicle. That’s how fast they were going,” Layher said. “Just because we’re going to recover, does not mean we’re just fine, and does not mean it’s better or okay."
Click here to visit a gofundme accountthat has been set up to help the family.