Rock Center   |  April 26, 2013

Baby’s birth brings healing to family who lost daughters

In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry, Jackie and Warren Hance describe overcoming the loss of their three daughters. They say the birth of a new baby and a foundation in the name of their daughters has helped them move past the wrong-way crash that took their girls’ lives.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> so tormented by how could she possibly go on after a trusted family member killed all three of her children? here now ann curry continues her report.

>> for a long time, i believed that god would never leave me in this pain. he would never leave anyone in this pain.

>> reporter: jackie hance's grief over the sudden loss of all three of her children was compounded by not being able to make sense of what investigators discovered, the alcohol and drugs in diane 's system, the apparent craziness of her actions.

>> i never knew her to drink. why would she be drinking with my and her kids in the car? like, it didn't -- no, just no. i just thought it is impossible. and it was a mistake.

>> reporter: jackie said she could think of nothing in the past that would have caused her to suspect diane abused alcohol or drugs but in stintly she fear shed would be harshly judged any way and she was.

>> quote, she must have known that diane was an alcoholic. she should have never let her kids go in that car.

>> in the beginning, i would read what people wrote. when you are up late at night and sleep deprived and emotionally drained you start to believe what you read.

>> reporter: jackie considered wild theories. was it significant that diane asked the store clerk for painkill painkillers. she had been complaining about a tooth ache. could that have influenced her actions that day.

>> i was willing to accept anything.

>> reporter: she concluded the crash was causing by drunk driving. a tangle of lawsuits followed by all parties. warren was sued because he owned the minivan.

>> my kids are gone, my sister, my niece is gone. they were affected in as traumatic a way as i was. i'm not going to sit and judge anyone else or make comments and, you know, people have to do what they need to do.

>> reporter: the lawsuit is still ongoing only adds to the distress on jackie and warren's marriage.

>> in the book you talk about really huge arguments with your husband. so raw and so emotional. and yet you two held on to each other as much as you fought.

>> i know. he's a really strong person. you know, i love him and i'm sorry for him.

>> you are sorry for his suffering you mean?

>> yeah. i would do anything not to see him in pain.

>> even when her own agony turned dangerous.

>> i just wanted to be with he girls so bad that i got so emotional and so fixated on fand seeing them again. the thought of being in pain forever was too much to handle.

>> you contemplated suicide.

>> uh-huh.

>> you even had a plan how to do it.

>> i had been putting a few pills away from each prescription and taking one or two from warren's and hiding them.

>> her friends never left her side. for months they delivered meals and took turns sleeping outside of her room afraid of what might happen if they left her alone.

>> i think we all looked for things that were scissors, forks, belts. we took away any medicine that we found in the closets. we took away scarves. part of it is what would we do? no one knew how anyone would react to such a news that we knew we needed her to be safe.

>> reporter: jackie knew she had to change her life if she was going to survive. her friends encouraged her to take small steps including to rejoin her early-morning runs.

>> they drag me out of bed every day and tried to get me some little speck of peace in the day.

>> reporter: her friends even suggested she have another child, but jackie couldn't imagine how she, a broken woman, would be able to care for a baby. what's more, she was 38 and technically couldn't have children. her tubes were tied and after the funeral there was no more money left to afford ivf. then came a gift.

>> what i did for them is what i would hope i would do for anyone who's in need and who has a situation that is essentially tragic and difficult.

>> reporter: a renounced new york city fertility doctor was so moved by the tragedy, he offered to help jackie and warren without charge.

>> they came to see us to see if perhaps we could do what we do, stimulate jackie to have multiple eggs to retrieve eggs, to get embryos to freeze so that when she was more psychologically ready we could achieve pregnancies in the future.

>> reporter: at this point, jackie said she was so numb she was just going through the motions , doing what she was told. but she was set against ever becoming pregnant again.

>> i didn't think i deserved to be a mom again.

>> her friends tried to convince her saying she deserved to be a great mom again and a baby would help to heal her heart.

>> i had a dream. i was in heaven and i got to the gates and the girls were there and i could see them. i could touch their hands because it was through the gate. and i said, can you let me in i saw god and he said no, you haven't done everything possible that you can do.

>> reporter: the next morning in february 2011 , a year and a half after the accident, jackie decided to get pregnant.

>> so you tried.

>> i tried.

>> and?

>> i got pregnant.

>> on the first try. she got the call and she's like i'm pregnant. we both started crying. jumping up and down. it was like hope.

>> yep.

>> hope.

>> hope for what?

>> for jackie .

>> for a slice of happiness.

>> reporter: jackie couldn't believe it.

>> i was in shock. it was a lot to take in.

>> reporter: on october 11th , she gave birth to casey rose and for the first time since the accident jackie felt joy. and something else, a need to reconcile her feelings about diane . standing by her daughter's graves, right next to diane 's, she realized she couldn't love her new baby and hate diane at the same time.

>> so you reached out and touched her head stone and what did you say?

>> i just said i don't understand, i don't know what happened that day and i always loved you and i forgive you. i mean i still love her. up until that day i only knew what i knew. she was a good person. and a good mom and a good friend. so i don't know what happened that day. i really don't.

>> even not knowing, you are able to forgive her?

>> i had to. i had no choice. because it was -- i wouldn't have been able to live any other way.

>> i can see myself in the mirror.

>> reporter: jackie says she and warren think of emma, allison and katie all the time. and that's why they started the hance family foundation which helps young girls build confidence and self esteem. the hance's want every girl to be confident and happy just as they wish for their own daughters. the foundation has become a mission for warren.

>> does it keep one person out of trouble? does it keep one girl from feeling bad about themselves one day? i know we made a difference. where it goes tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that, you can only dream.

>> reporter: help support the foundation financially jackie has written a book, "i'll see you again." she writes about hope in the face of suffer thaeng spirit of her girls.

>> my greatest desire is for people to know them that never get to know them. like emma's future mother-in-law or katie's future college roommate or somebody who didn't get the chance to meet them might meet them through the book.

>> reporter: their new bundle of joy, casey is now 18 months old. a little girl teaching her parents to let go of some of their tragedy and know even after all that has been lost there's still a way to go on.

>> it just gives you a meaning again. when you lose everything and then you get something to hold on to, there's no way to describe it.

>> she brings a heart beat to this house again. there was none. she brought us back life.

>> even with the happiness of their new arrival, what an incredibly sad story at the end of the day . ann curry reporting for us from floral park on long island here in new york.