CRESTVIEW — Over six weeks after being critically injured in a car accident, two Crestview children are coming home.
But, not to the home in Covington, Tennessee, where they used to live with their mother and father. The children will instead start a new life back in Crestview with their uncle and aunt — Michael and Misty Gibson.
"The two of them have a long road ahead and they'll never be the same" Michael said Wednesday.
On Nov. 18, 5-year-old Skyler Sims sustained major brain damage and 12-year-old Bartly Sims Jr.'s arm was amputated after a head-on collision in Covington, Tennessee.
The children's father, Bartly Sims, Sr., drove into the opposite lane of traffic and hit a Jeep Wrangler, according to a Tennessee traffic crash report.
Sims was charged with driving under the influence, child abuse and neglect, driving with a revoked or suspended license, driving without exercising due care and vehicular assault.
The children's mother was also in the car and received major injuries. Their third child, 10-year-old Leland, was not in the vehicle during the crash and is already in Crestview with the Gibsons.
"They didn't expect Skyler to live," Michael Gibson said. "She's not brain dead, but they haven't noticed any forced movements. They never expect her to be able to walk and she'll be on a feeding tube for the rest of her life."
Michael Gibson said he and his wife asked his sister for custody of the three children right before the accident, but were denied. The Simses had been living in Crestview until a few weeks before the crash.
"It feels horrible because I feel like I let them down," Gibson said. "There they were, right in my grasp, as three healthy children. I can never give them the life they should have had."
Skyler and Bartly are still receiving treatment at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. They will be transported to Crestview in about three weeks after Bartly finishes receiving skin grafts for his reattached arm.
Misty Gibson is with the children in Tennessee until they return home, while Michael is in Crestview with Leland and his own teenage children.
Michael said the family recently purchased a two-bedroom home, but they will likely sell it to purchase a larger, handicap-friendly house. They said they will also need to purchase a van with a wheelchair lift to bring Skyler back and forth to doctors appointments.
"It's hard because it was a struggle just trying to make ends meet beforehand," Michael Gibson said. "Now I have three extra children, two who have special needs. One will never use his arm again and the other will never get out of bed again.
"It's a terrible thing to know that a 5-year-old will have that life."
Want to help? The family has started a gofundme.com account at https://www.gofundme.com/its-always-the-innocent-ones.