By Mike Bush
Oakville, MO (KSDK)- In every hospital, you can usually find good doctors, good nurses but rarely good memories but time at St. Louis Children's hospital is something that the Detwiler family doesn't want to forget.
"We have to go back to the hospital, we have to, " says Mary Detwiler. "To say thanks."
On this day, they're bringing cake.
"These cakes are for every floor I stayed on, " explains Cecilia Detwiler.
There are hugs and hellos and for 17 year old Cecilia who loves to sing, even a reunion with the music therapist.
It may be a hospital but for Cecilia and her big brother Joe, two years ago it was their home.
It was July 4, 2010 , a day of celebration for most. That afternoon, Joe then 17 was driving15 year old Cecilia back to their Oakville home from the family farm in St. James.
Just a few minutes into their drive, Joe somehow lost control of the wheel, overcorrected and their gray Ford truck slammed into a tree.
"This is exactly where it happened. He came off this curve hit the tree pretty much head on, " remembers St. James paramedic Bryan Lambeth.
When first responders arrived on the scene, Cecilia was still conscious.
"It was hot, " she recalls, "the car was steaming and I look over at Joe and his jaw was completely detached from his head."
Joe was unresponsive as he was pulled out of the vehicle. It took two hours to cut Cecilia out of the passengers seat.
"The entire truck came back on her legs, " says Lambeth.
Dad and Mom who were on scene by now were told to get to the hospital as soon as possible, even before Cecilia was removed.
"She was going like hold on, it's going to be alright, " remembers Cecilia. "We'll meet you in St. Louis and I was like Mom, don't leave me. Don't leave me here. And she had to go."
They were both airlifted to Children's with massive trauma. Most concerning, Joe's severe brain injury and Cecilia's crushed legs and blood loss.
"That night they told me, he's not going to make it at all, " says Cecilia and Joe's dad Mike Detwiler. "And she's most likely going to have her leg amputated if she makes it."
Joe had suffered two strokes because of his injuries and was in a coma for two months.
"You know non verbal, he was not speaking to us, " says Nurse practitioner Julie Berninger. "He was receiving all his feeds through a tube. "
Cecilia had four surgeries to place 4 titanium rods and over 30 metal screws in her legs and right ankle. She started the long slow process of healing. After six weeks at Children's, she was transferred to Ranken-Jordan Pediatric Hospital for therapy and rehab.
"She has an incredible courage, " says Mike Detwiler. "What she had to physically go through in therapy, I couldn't bear to watch."
Bravery and determination helped her push through the pain. And something else, singing.
Then one day, back Children's, out of the blue, Joe began to respond.
"I would touch his face and it's just the strangest thing because he's there but he's not there, " says Mary Detwiler. "Then one time I leaned in and I said Joe give me a kiss and he just went (smooch) and I thought son of a ..He gave me a kiss."
"The first important memory for me, " says Joe, "was just realizing what had happened to me. I'm pretty sure it took a couple of weeks to explain to me over and over again what happened and have it process through my head."
Now, after an arduous, 24 month journey, they've returned to Children's hospital.
"Oh my gosh, they look amazing, " says Trauma manager Diana Kraus.
Back to give thanks to the people who gave back their lives.
"You know there were very tough moments and we had to be completely honest but never lose that hope, " says critical physician Dr. Jose Pineda.
Joe recently graduated from high school and in a few weeks he will enter the seminary.
"God has given me all of this, how can I not try and give something back to him, " explains Joe.
And Cecilia continues to sing. From lying down, to sitting to standing up in front of millions.