TOLEDO (WTOL) - It was a crash that shocked a nation. A drunk driver killing a mother and four children here in Toledo last Christmas.
Danny Griffin survived while his wife and kids laid lifeless.
Now, he sits down with Lisa Rantala for a story you'll see only on News 11.
"If you could read her mind, you could tell how happy she was," Danny Griffin says, "It's a smile I'll never forget." This is what he wants to remember while we recall the scene that wiped out nearly his entire family.
For him, the story doesn't start December 30 on I-280. It started when he met the love of his life -- then Beth Burkman -- three years ago. "I walked outside. I saw her face-to-face for the first time. It's one of those experiences that I'll never forget."
They met online. She lived in Maryland, and he lived in Michigan. They had a connection Danny still wears around his neck with their two wedding bands on a chain.
He talks about the new baby they added to their blended family. "That was part of the start-over... to have a baby of our own." Along came Vadi in November of last year. The two planned to show her off last Christmas in Michigan. "It was the first time my girls got to see her. Jordan just loved it. She was like a little mother to her," Danny says.
From there, Danny, his two girls Jordan and Sydney, Bethany, her three kids Lacie, Haley and Beu as well as eight-week old Vadi headed to Maryland for a second Christmas there. Another son, Brett Burkman, didn't go on the trip.
"We didn't even get 20 minutes down the road, and all of them were asleep," Danny tells us.
It was a trip Danny drove 25 times already. All was well until he arrived in Toledo and got on the express way... He saw headlights headed straight for him. "The first thing I saw was Bethany in the middle of the road. I didn't pay any attention to anything else around me at that point. I ran out there to her."
He survived when his head ricocheted back to an open space between his door and the car's roof line.
He was panicked, angry and frustrated not knowing which kids lived and that not all of them were accounted for. "I had no idea where Jordan was, and that really bugged me. I was in the hospital, and you feel so helpless."
Jordan was recovered underneath the van.
The man who hit them, Michael Gagnon, had a blood alcohol level over two times the legal limit. He's written letters to Danny saying it should have been him who was killed.
Along with Danny, his daughter Sydney, and Bethany's son Beu survived the crash. Bethany's son, Brett, had not been on the trip.
Danny says his life has changed forever since the deadly night.
Part 2 of the interview