It was 10 years ago this month that Jim Olson, a well-known Pleasanton landscaper, was driving the family van east on Interstate 80 with his wife Elaine at his side and two of their three children--Ashley, 14, and Lori, 11--in the two back seats. Halfway to their destination in Colorado, they ran into a sudden downpour at the eastern edge of Nevada. The van hydroplaned, Jim lost control and the vehicle rolled over twice before coming to a stop in a roadside ditch. Jim was killed instantly, Ashley, a freshman basketball star at Amador Valley high School, suffered a severed spine and was paralyzed from the waist down, Elaine suffered multiple injuries with Lori sustaining fewer but still serious broken bones and cuts. The three were airlifted by two helicopters to hospitals in Salt Lake City with Jim's body brought back to Pleasanton awaiting services. Kristina, then 19, had stayed home to attend classes at Diablo Valley College. She rushed to Salt Lake, where she spent a month nursing her mother and sisters and helping to buoy their spirits enough so that all could come back home. "She was the rock that kept us all going when we really didn't want to," her mother said.
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posted Friday, July 25, 2008, 12:00 AM