Community provides van to family of plane crash victim (with video)

NIBLEY – The family of a pilot who was killed in an Elko, Nevada plane crash last month received a much-needed Christmas surprise. When Sadie Shepherd answered her door December 23, she found Santa Claus and a van full of gifts for her and her family.

Jason Hansen lives just two doors down from the Shepherd family. He noticed Shepherd’s three kids were still in car seats and were using a car too small for their needs. Hansen, a mechanic, told Shepherd he had a 2004 Honda Odyssey van he was fixing up, and offered to sell it to her for at an inexpensive price. Shepherd then became interested in selling her car to purchase the van.

“I went home that night and started working on it,” Hansen said. “The next morning I woke up and I said ‘I’m going to give her this van. I’m not going to make her pay for it.’ I really feel like it was God telling me to do it.”

Much of the work didn’t go smoothly. He spent 11 hours putting in a new engine, but had to start over with a second when the first didn’t work.

As friends and neighbors began to learn what was happening, they wanted to help out too, but Hansen began to be discouraged by his own car problems. After spending a night in the mountains volunteering with the Cache County Search and Rescue, his truck broke down.

“I was like I can’t do this,” he said. “I don’t have enough money to fix my own truck now. I told them I wasn’t doing it.”

As more support started pouring in, and Hansen rededicated himself to the project. He said support came in from neighbors, Lindquist Auto Parts, Don West Snap-on Tools, Merlin’s Drive In, the LDS church, the New Life Fellowship Church and others.

“My boss at Big O put two brand new tires on it,” he said. “It was in need of a few new tires. Detail Service did a full detail. Lindquist Auto Parts donated some parts, Carquest donated some parts, Miller Autobody donated some parts.”

When a friend suggested that Santa go along to help deliver the van, Hansen knew the guy he wanted to do it. He knew that a Big O customer of his often played Santa and had the perfect real beard to do it. Even though it was just two days before Christmas, Santa was available, and he provided just the help Hansen needed.

“I was up all night the night before trying to think of what I was going to tell her and what I was going to say,” Hansen said. “I didn’t say a word. I just kind of went and Santa did all the talking.”

Hansen said he didn’t put it together for his own recognition, but is glad at all the support that was shown.

Those who wish to donate to the family can still do so <a href=”” target=”_blank”>here</a> or at Wells Fargo under the name Jake Shepherd. 

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