Knoxville — A Knoxville family is recovering and thankful to the community after surviving a horrific crash on Interstate 40 East in Knoxville.
The Knoxville Police Department responded after a tractor-trailer crossed over several lanes, crashing into the Spiva family's car and pinning them against the center barrier on I-40 Monday near the Alcoa Highway exit.
The family of four --including twn toddlers-- were trapped and injured, and first responders had to be cut the top of the vehicle off to rescue them. All four were sent to the hospital.
The day of the crash, Erica and Brett Spiva were headed to dinner with their twins to celebrate their second birthday.
"There was a little bit of a gap, and that gap just closed in, that's all I remember," Brett Spiva said. "Just remember it happening and it seemed like forever for us to stop."
According to the police report, a tractor-trailer crossed over several lanes, rear-ended another vehicle, and squeezed the Spiva family into the median wall. The driver of the tractor-trailer was cited.
"It looked a lot worse from sitting inside the car than what you could see in that picture," Erica Spiva said.
"Once everything came to a stop, I remember opening my eyes...I looked over at her (Erica), and she was moving. I looked at the kids, they were moving and immediately started crying. I was patting their legs and seeing if they were okay. That's when I turned around and saw my phone, picked up my phone and called 911," Brett Spiva said.
The Spivas said a paramedics team passing by stopped to take care of them first.
"I have a huge place in my heart for those two guys," Erica Spiva said.
More and more first responder crews arrived shortly after, getting the kids out first. Erica Spiva was trapped in the car for more than an hour before crews could extract her.
"There were strangers, just pedestrians... just trying to get to us, trying to break out our windows," Erica Spiva said.
Brett walked away from the crash with cuts and bruises along with their daughter, Eva. Eva's twin brother, Isaac, broke his leg.
Erica was seriously injured -- breaking her femur and part of her hip socket. She has gone through two surgeries and will need physical therapy to learn how to walk again.
Erica and Brett believe their twins' car seats helped keep them safe. They call the twins their "miracle babies" after some struggles with fertility, and now the twins have survived in another miracle with mom and dad.
"I would take this again one thousand times before I'd let them get hurt any worse than they were," Erica said.
The Spiva family remain remarkably positive and are overwhelmed with support and gratitude. They want to thank every first responder, pedestrian, doctor, family and supporter who has reached out to them. Erica Spiva said a sorority sister organized a meal donation service for the family.
"Knoxville is truly just the epicenter of wonderful people in the world, I believe that," Erica Spiva said. "The paramedics, the firemen, the policemen that came to work the scene, the pedestrians that weren't working and trying to help, who got there first."
They hope to return home from the hospital this weekend.