I don’t often think about the haunted highway but I definitely have a few memories of it that I can’t shake.
I was driving home from work one evening in the early 90s when I stopped at a light in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express, a motel on Highway 66 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As I pulled into the parking area, a truck pulled out of the parking garage.
It was my husband, the driver.
“How’s your wife?” he asked.
He was the first person I ever saw on the highway.
The truck driver said he was headed to Las Vegas and had to pick up some equipment.
After a brief conversation, the two of us went our separate ways.
My wife and I would stay in a room at the Holiday and he would drive me back to Vegas.
Over the years, I would drive through the parking lots of every other motel in Vegas, every night before I would go out.
On the last night of the holiday weekend, I drove my wife to her house in the city of Henderson, Nevada and I got the chance to spend the night there.
At first, I was afraid to enter the room, but after I saw the white walls and the white sheets and the red carpeting, I had to share a room with my wife.
When she was awake, she was always smiling and laughing, and I couldn’t resist sneaking into the room to play with her.
Later, I also tried to sleep in the guest room of the motel where my wife and children lived, but when the alarm went off, she wouldn’t come out.
Eventually, the room I shared with my beloved wife and kids was locked.
So I tried to enter, but I was stuck in there.
The only way out was to take a bus to Las Ramblas, a downtown neighborhood in Las Angeles, California, and drive down to the nearby city of San Fernando.
Once I got there, I found my way into the guest bedroom and found my family.
One of my daughters, who had been staying at the hotel, called me to tell me that her mother and two brothers had been shot.
She had called to tell them she was OK, but that they were still in the hospital and that her parents had to stay in the hotel.
All my kids were dead.
What was the next thing I heard?
I woke up the next morning with the news on the radio.
That was the last time I heard anything from my wife or my children.
They never came home.
There were no pictures of them.
No pictures of me.
Only the sounds of my car door slamming, the thud of my feet, and the crunch of the pavement.
This was the nightmare that haunted me for years.
But there was hope.
Three months after I found out that my wife had died, I took my daughter, who is now 16, and her brother to a friend’s house.
In the backseat of my vehicle, I pulled out my cellphone.
(In the years since, I’ve taken the phone to every family I’ve ever been in touch with.)
I had been told that the phone would give me access to a family member who could contact my family members and give them updates on the case.
Instead, it gave me a false sense of security.
Now, I know that the police are still searching for answers.
And I’m so thankful that my daughter has finally found someone to tell her that she has been found and that she’s safe.
Thanks to the work of a couple of friends, I have now found a family that will stand by me.