‘LOVE CONQUERS ALL’ — Family of siblings who died in crash thanks community for support

Ellie Liday, 14, left, Claire Horton, 14, and Kate Carrillo, 14, all friends of the late Lauren Neibaur, wash cars during a fundraiser for the Neibaur family. A silent auction, raffle and car wash were held July 1 at Maple Street Sit N Sleep in Pocatello. Lauren and her brother, Eric Neibaur, were killed in a car accident June 18.

Ellie Liday, 14, left, Claire Horton, 14, and Kate Carrillo, 14, all friends of the late Lauren Neibaur, wash cars during a fundraiser for the Neibaur family. A silent auction, raffle and car wash were held July 1 at Maple Street Sit N Sleep in Pocatello. Lauren and her brother, Eric Neibaur, were killed in a car accident June 18.

By Shelbie Harris, sharris@journalnet.com

POCATELLO — As tragic as it was, one silver lining of optimism remains after the fatal Father’s Day crash that claimed the lives of teenage Pocatello siblings Eric, 15, and Lauren, 13, Neibaur and Nampa resident Jay Lanningham, 70.

And that is a constant and thorough display of care and support from the small, rural communities of Southeast Idaho and those beyond.

Though Eric and Lauren’s parents, Bobbi and Eric Neibaur, grapple with finding a sense of normalcy in a time where normal doesn’t exist, multiple fundraisers and public events to assist the family have provided the grieving parents with a first-hand account of how well small-town communities rally behind those stricken with tragedy.

“Thank you,” Eric said Tuesday in a written statement. “As many of you know, Bobbi and I lost our two youngest children in a car accident on June 18. We struggle to find the words to say to everyone who shared a thousand tears with us, gave us hundreds of hugs, shared in the grief and offered support. Thank you.”

No amount of money will help the Neibaur family replace what has been lost. However, support from Southeast Idaho in the form of a car wash, a baseball tournament fundraiser, a tip drive at a family-owned coffee business, a candlelight vigil, a funeral brimming with loved ones and two GoFundMe.com campaigns raised tens of thousands of dollars to support this family in a time of grief.

“There are so many to thank that we couldn’t possibly reach out to everyone,” Eric said. “The Pocatello and surrounding communities have overwhelmed us with their love and support. I wish I could speak to each one personally and explain that we could feel their love and it has meant more to us then we can explain.”

Exact numbers are not readily available. But as those who organized the tip drive, car wash and baseball tournament fundraisers work to tally up the totals, the two GoFundMe.com campaigns have raised over $20,000 in less than one month following the accident.

A family friend, Cassandra Tack, who helped plan and orchestrate the July 1 car wash, bake sale and silent auction fundraiser at the Maple Street Sit N Sleep, said the vision behind the fundraiser was to give the friends of Eric and Lauren something positive to do and offer a way to get them together so that they could heal.

“We got a bunch of the kids together who were friends and they all came out and washed cars,” Tack said. “We had a few moms get together to make sure we had enough to do. We had an overwhelming amount of donations and the kids didn’t go more than 5 minutes total without having cars to wash. It was a very successful event.”

On Friday, a group of friends will take the proceeds from the Sit N Sleep fundraiser to the Neibaur family, Tack added.

Eric said that the monetary donations helped the family tremendously, which included paying for airfare and lodging expenses so that loved ones from Texas, Washington and beyond could attend the funeral.

Both Eric and Bobbi’s employers offered the couple as much time off as they needed, friends and neighbors watered and mowed their lawns, and several people delivered home-cooked meals.

“God poured out his love on us in such great abundance that it took all of you to give it to us,” Eric said. “This has begun the healing in our hearts.”

Despite the horrific nature of their loss, Eric said there were several amazing things that came from this tragedy.

Idaho State Police Capt. Eric Dayley said the crash, which occurred on U.S. 30 near McCammon on June 18, is still under investigation.

The wreck occurred when the Chevrolet C1500 pickup truck that the younger Eric was driving drifted into the eastbound lane, Dayley said. He added that determining why the vehicle drifted would be difficult, if not impossible, to determine as both occupants in the vehicle died at the scene.

“Anything beyond that would be speculation,” Dayley said.

While letters from strangers from across the country pour into the Neibaurs’ mailbox, the pair, with support and a lasting trust in their faith, continue to move forward knowing that one day their families will be together again.

“God’s love has conquered death and the grave,” Eric said. “We know our children are safe and loved in the arms of God and we wait to be reunited with them and our Lord. May the Lord pour out his love on you, heal your broken hearts and bring peace that passes all understanding. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”