Choking back tears, Brandon Luft spoke to a large congregation one day after losing his wife, two daughters and a friend of the family in a free-fall crash off an icy Kansas bridge.
The Kearney, Mo., man said he felt blessed by the outpouring of support from the community; dozens attended the quickly organized prayer vigil at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Liberty.
Luft lost his wife of more than 25 years, Lisa Luft, his two young daughters — Brianna, 20, and Aria, 14 — as well as one of the family’s closest friends, 18-year-old Saleena Senzee, in the crash Tuesday morning.
Lisa Luft was driving a Dodge truck when, due to weather conditions, she slid along a guardrail for about 400 feet before plummeting 25 feet to an embankment below, the Kansas Highway Patrol reported.
Brandon Luft was driving in front of the truck and saw the crash as it happened in his rearview mirror.
“Lisa was truly the most amazing person,” Luft told the gathering. “She came into my life, and I was so thankful for her. She gave me six beautiful children.”
One of his sons, Ethan Luft, had earlier told The Star that he lost “four of the most important women in my life.”
He described Saleena as practically a family member. She grew up on the same street and was close friends with Brianna.
Brianna was enrolled at Missouri State University, and Saleena was enrolled at Metropolitan Community College–Maple Woods. She had plans to join Brianna at Missouri State, said Saleena’s brother, Aaron Senzee.
They had graduated from Kearney High School. Aria was in the eighth grade at Kearney Junior High School.
Brandon Luft, a former pastor, said he had recently spoken with his children about how thankful he was to be with his wife.
“Brianna was there. ... We were talking about how God blessed me with the most wonderful marriage for 25-and-a-half years,” he said.
Later, he added, “I’m just blessed to be part of this church and community. You guys are awesome.”
Multiple funds have been established to help the affected families defray funeral costs.
Brandon Luft — Luft Family Memorial Fund
Blanca Senzee — Saleena Senzee Memorial Fund