Their spirits were soaring as the newlywed couple, Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, headed toward Phoenix to spend Thanksgiving with her family. They were driving their new Ford Escort and chatting about the Cowboys, the university baseball team that Kim coached back in their hometown of Las Vegas, N.M. With them was Milan Rasic, Kim’s assistant coach.
It was pitch-dark at 6:30 p.m., and by then Krickitt had taken the wheel. Kim, who had a head cold, had gotten in the back seat of the car so he could lie down. Six miles west of Gallup, N.M., on Interstate 40, a flatbed truck traveling ahead of them at about 30 miles per hour was obscured by exhaust smoke. Kim woke to Krickitt’s scream of terror and Milan’s shout, “Watch out!”
Krickitt hit the brakes and attempted to swerve left, but collided with the flatbed. A pickup truck that had been behind them slammed into the driver’s side of the Escort. The little car flew through the air and came down on its roof, skidding more than 100 feet before it stopped.
Kim was squeezed against the roof of the car, which was underneath him. He couldn’t move his legs, and the pain in his back was excruciating.
“Krickitt!” Kim screamed. There was no answer.
He couldn’t see that Krickitt was suspended above him, held by the seat belt and the steering wheel, her head swelling grotesquely as fluid flooded her brain.
It took a half-hour for rescuers to extract Krickitt from the crumpled metal. Since she was critically injured, the first ambulance took her to Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup. Shortly after, a second ambulance followed with Kim and Milan, who was not badly injured. Krickitt was then flown to University Hospital in Albuquerque.
Kim Carpenter and Krickitt Pappas had met by phone, a chance business call in September 1992. As head baseball coach at New Mexico Highlands University, Kim, 27, received lots of catalogues for customized sportswear. When something caught his eye, he dialed the toll-free number, and in Anaheim, Calif., a sales associate answered. Her voice was animated, sparkling with laughter.
“Your name is really Krickitt?” he teased.
“And you’re from Las Vegas, but not Nevada?” she responded, laughing. She explained that her real name was Krisxan, a Greek name, pronounced Kris-ann, and that an aunt nicknamed her Krickitt when she was two because she never stood still.