HOUSTON The babysitter of the siblings who survived a wreck that killed their parents says her life has been changed by the tragedy.
Josh Berry, 41, and Robin Berry, 40, died when a car veered into oncoming traffic in West Texas and hit their minivan.
Peter, 9, Aaron, 8, and Willa, 6, were in the car with their parents returning from a family vacation in Colorado.
Peter and Aaron were left paralyzed from the waist down.
Their parents are gone and they are alone, but yet they re not alone because the people who meant the most to their parents are with them all the time, said Tessa Gerall.
Gerall, 23, who put her first year of graduate school on hold to help with the children, is a member of the Berry family, but not through blood. She s just that close.
The Berry children have always called her their big sis.
She says the last few months have been an emotional roller coaster for the family.
She just spent 10 weeks with the boys in Chicago as they underwent intense rehabilitation at Shriners Hospital.
They returned to Houston last week and were reunited with their sister Willa and their classmates at Beth Yeshurun Day School.
For the boys, it might be harder now, but at the same time, they re back with their friends. They re at school. They re going to birthday parties. They re doing what they do, what kids do, what Peter and Aaron do, so I think that part is better for them, said Gerall, a Stephen F. Austin graduate.
All three children live with their aunt and uncle, Matt and Simone Berry.Tessa, who s with them most days, plays a major role in their lives.
They ll say comments like, I wish I could walk, I wish I could move my legs, but at the same time, the second after they re done saying that, they re popping wheelies and spinning in circles and doing things and beating me because I can t run as fast as their wheelchairs can roll, Gerall said.
Gerall said Peter has more mobility than his younger brother because he s not wearing a halo like Aaron.
Peter can get dressed and ready for school alone.
With Peter, he can do anything and everything himself, said Gerall. We used to race. He would get timed to see if he could beat his time from the day before. I think he s down to 20 minutes from full ready in the morning. I mean that s legit. And Aaron will be there soon enough. Once he gets his halo off and he has more mobility, he ll learn all of it, said Gerall.
All three children ride to school in a wheelchair-accessible van. Tessa makes sure all rides to school are full of fun.
We re all in the car and we re on our way and we roll down the windows and jam out to music and everybody dances, laughed Gerall.
After-school activities are different now. They include time at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research or TIRR.
According to Gerall, Peter is all over it.
He boxes and does all this kind of stuff to work on upper body strength, but he is like pouring sweat afterwards. He is exhausted. It s so funny and Aaron works on mobility and stuff like that. Even though it s two hours of therapy they have so much fun there, said Gerall.
Willa was the least injured of the three children. While her physical injuries have healed there are still emotional scars, she said.
The other day we were hanging out and she said about three or four times under her breath she whispered, I miss Mom and Dad, and it was just awful, and I was like, I know, me too. And then she moves on, not moves on, but then goes on and does her 6-year-old thing, colors a picture or dances to music, said Gerall.
The Berry children have been become known throughout the community, country and world.
Celebrities like Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga have jumped on board the Show Your Hearts campaign to help with their ongoing medical costs.
They know that people love them, that people care about them, we have told them that. They re all over Facebook. We haven t told them that the whole world sees your pictures just because they re kids, we don t want them to feel like people are watching them all the time, said Gerall.
The Berry children have been taught they can do anything they want to do -- it s just different.
There s hard times, and it s sad and it s difficult, but they are so strong and they are incredible, and I mean I am so proud of them, said Gerall. We all have hope. I mean miracles happen and we re convinced they re going to happen here, I guess it s just waiting and seeing.