What started out as a fun birthday celebration turned into the horrific deaths of 20 people when an SUV limo packed with family and friends crashed in Schoharie, New York earlier this month.
All four of Tom and Linda King's daughters and three of their husbands died in the crash. The grieving parents opened up to The New York Times for the first time since the accident about how they are coping with their tragic loss.
"It's going to be down the road, three or four months from now, when it really hits us," Tom King, 72, told the Times.
"You know, your kids go off to college and other places. Sometimes you don't see them for several months. Eventually we'll realize they aren't coming home," he added.
Their daughters and more than a dozen other relatives all piled in a huge limo on October 6, headed for a birthday party in Cooperstown, NY. The limo went flying down hill, ran through a stop sign at an intersection, and plowed into a parked SUV. The crash killed everyone inside as well as two pedestrians.
"The coroner told the sheriff that the kids didn't suffer," Linda King told the Times. "It was immediate."
Today, the Kings are grandparents to three orphans -- all under the age of five. The children will live with the parents of their sons-in-law, the Kings said.
"We love our grandchildren, but realize we physically can't care for them full time,'' Tom King said.
However, the couple will make sure their grandchildren will know what happened to their parents when they get older. They saved newspaper articles about the crash for the children to read one day.
"I think they will want to read these stories when they get older,'' Linda King said.
Tom King says he feels like the tragedy came straight out of the Bible.
"I did feel like Job, who God had deserted," he said.
However, the couple is astounded by the outpouring of love they have received from friends, neighbors, and even strangers.
"I saw a Nebraska address on a bouquet of flowers that arrived," Linda said. "We don't know anyone in Nebraska."