Something struck Christy Buchholz Deters about a photo taken Saturday after Sabetha High School won a state football championship.
It shows the Ukele family - brothers Tanner and Carson who play on the team, smiling and happy with their little sister, Marlee, and their parents, Carmen and Lee.
Just a few hours later Carmen and Marlee died in a car crash on the drive home. The boys’ uncle, Stephen Ukele, was killed, too. Their father was left critically injured.
Funerals have been set for Saturday and Monday.
Deters, who lives in Sabetha, didn’t take that family photo but on Wednesday she posted it with a passionate life-is-short essay that has touched many a heart on Facebook.
“The point of this post is different then most,” she wrote. “We all agree that it was very tragic thing that happened to the Ukele family. But I saw this picture on fb and something just keeps running through my mind. And my thought is is this ... take the picture.
“Sometimes we get caught up in how we look and avoid pictures being taken of us. Our hair isn’t right, our outfit doesn’t match, I’ve gained some weight, bla bla bla.
“Take a good look at this picture, it’s most likely the last picture they took together as a family. No one in this picture had any idea their lives were about to change forever in the next few hours to come. None of us know when it will be our time to be called home. They are all genuinely happy. Happy and proud. What a great picture to have. Sometimes we shy away ... don’t take my pic but for goodness sake ...TAKE THE PICTURE!!”
On Saturday night, Carmen Ukele was driving back to Sabetha after watching her sons win the Class 3A state football championship in Hutchinson.
On U.S. 75 north of Holton, Kan., in northern Jackson County, she crashed head-on into another vehicle that was trying to pass traffic on the two-lane highway, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol’s report.
The driver of the car passing traffic, 48-year-old Maria D. Perez-Marquez of Omaha, Neb., and her passenger, Rosalao Perez, 29, St. Joseph, Mo., were airlifted to KU Hospital.
Perez was listed in serious condition earlier this week, according to The Marysville Advocate, but the hospital reportedly had no record for Perez-Marquez’s condition.
Lee Ukele, listed in serious condition this week, has had several surgeries to repair his broken legs and was scheduled to have surgery for broken vertebrae, the newspaper reported.
The Advocate reports that Sabetha High’s basketball team will play at 6 p.m. Friday at Marysville, where school officials have planned a memorial observance during the game for the Ukele family and the Sabetha community.
Stephen Ukele’s funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at NorthRidge Church in Sabetha, according to his obituary.
A joint funeral for Carmen and Marlee Ukele will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday at NorthRidge Church.