Lori Lopez was a thousand miles away from home when she got the call.

Surreal, she could barely take in the information.

The news: Her 32-year-old daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter had been in a serious boating accident.

Tami Clark and toddler Natalee Clark had been thrown onto jagged and dangerously rough boulders and granite after their boat hit a rock in the water. Driven by Tami's husband, Danny, two other adult friends also were thrown into the Delta near the Holland/Riverside Marina in Knightsen.

When they got the news, Lori and husband Steve frantically searched for a flight home, but were going to have to wait for nearly a day. Still, they went directly to the airport, hoping for an opening.

"I'll never forget it," she said. "I just wanted to drive nonstop," she said. "I wanted to be there holding her hand. As a mom, you just want to be there."

But with all flights sold-out, they could only wait.

"All I did was cry the whole time."

But thanks to a kind couple giving up their seats, the Lopez couple snagged an earlier flight to the Bay Area.

On that fateful Aug. 12 day, Tami Clark was the most severely injured and was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. Her middle daughter was taken to UC Medical Center.

According to fire district reports, the Antioch mother lived "because the speed with which a helicopter got her to a hospital within moments of it being too late." The elder Clark suffered a litany of injuries, including both feet broken, both legs fractured, a broken neck and a skull fracture. Natalee, who had 15 stitches above her right eye, a fractured ankle and a sprained ankle, was home after a week in Davis. "That lifejacket saved her," Lopez said.

After four surgeries and a couple weeks in the hospital, the Antioch High grad returned home, but needs 24-hour care. That's being handled by mother Lori, sister Brandi Pryor and mother-in-law Tina Clark.

She may require another operation due to loss of hearing in her left ear. She also has a left eye that won't shut.

"It was a whole other nightmare to see (Tami) in the hospital," Lopez said.

Still, despite the fear of losing a daughter and the long healing road ahead, Lopez said the last few weeks have been "amazing." "It's been overwhelming," she said of contributions, meals, gift baskets and offers of prayers.

While family, friends and the community have rallied around her family, Lopez is still shocked no one stopped to help her girls.

"They would just slow down. One did say they called 911 and then took off, but nobody wanted to get out and get involved."

In addition to the love and support from friends, some are also organizing several fundraisers for the family. As a stylist at Lopez's Wild Orchids salon in Antioch, Clark doesn't have benefits. The fundraisers will help pay the hefty bills on the horizon.

First up is a 6 p.m. Sept. 14 car show and music at the Mutiny Roadhouse in Antioch. Then, on Sept. 17, Pinky's Car Wash hosts a fundraiser. Then, on Oct. 21, 12 area hair salons will join forces for a cut-a-thon. Cost is $20, with all proceeds benefiting the Tami Clark Foundation. For more info on that, call 925-756-0666.

"I have really great friends," Lopez said. "I couldn't get through this without the support."

For more details on Clark's progress and future fundraisers, visit the Tami Clark Foundation page on Facebook.

Contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net.

FUNDRAISERS
  • Sept. 14: 6 p.m. car show and music at the Mutiny Roadhouse, 422 W. Second St. in Antioch. Call 925-755-2900.
  • Sept. 17: all-day carwash at Pinky's Car Wash, 300 E. 18th St. Call 925-779-9274.
  • Oct. 21: Twelve hair salons will join forces for a cut-a-thon. Cost is $20, with all proceeds benefiting the Tami Clark Foundation. For more info on that, call 925-756-0666.