Kevin and Alex Malarkey were alone together when the accident happened. It was November 2004, and the Malarkeys had moved to rural Huntsville, Ohio, from suburban Columbus just weeks earlier. The family was struggling financially, and Kevin and his wife, Beth, wanted to pursue a quieter life. Beth had given birth to their fourth child a few days before. Six-year-old Alex was the oldest of the bunch. He and his father went to church that Sunday morning, just the two of them.
On the drive home, Kevin answered a call on his cellphone just as he approached an intersection with a blind spot that locals knew to fear. He didn't see the other car coming. Kevin was thrown from his vehicle but was unhurt. Alex was taken in a helicopter to Columbus Children's Hospital. (The occupants of the other car were not seriously injured.) Alex had suffered an "internal decapitation"—his skull essentially separated from his spine. His injuries were so serious that the coroner was called to the scene of the crash.