Lone survivor of 2007 SD crash continues mental, emotional recovery 10 years later
ETHAN, S.D. — When the pulsing rhythm of red and blue police lights flashed behind the car Angela Mogck was a passenger in 10 years ago, she let out a sigh of relief.
That relief soon gave way to shrieks of terror and a morbid realization that the Ethan teenager's life was about to change forever.
On June 14, 2007, Mogck's stepfather Lyle Doering held Mogck and her siblings hostage inside their grandmother's home in Ethan before kidnapping them and leading police on a lengthy high-speed chase. Doering eventually crashed the vehicle into a tree near Bridgewater, killing himself and Mogck's two younger siblings.
Ten years later, Mogck's broken bones have mended, but the memories and emotional scarring have yet to fade.
"I still don't understand why everything happened the way it did and I'm here today and they're not," 27-year-old Mogck said this week. "I don't think it's right. This isn't how it should be."
The 2007 day began like many others for the siblings. Mogck and 13-year-old Deanna slept late, waking up around 2 p.m. Shortly after waking up, the day took a turn for the worse.
Mogck's 9-year-old brother Trevor told her his father was there, and as Mogck looked out her bedroom window to see for herself, she locked eyes with Doering.
Doering was wanted by the law and Deanna and Trevor were staying with Mogck at their grandparent's home to avoid contact with him.
Little did they know he had been spending his nights on the outskirts of the property, sleeping in abandoned cars and on hay bales, Mogck said.
But he waited nearly two weeks before he made his move, approaching the children when they were alone.
After seeing Doering, Mogck hid Deanna and Trevor in the home, and when Doering entered, asking where his children were, Mogck told him they weren't there.
"His eyes, there was this sinister look to them," Mogck said. "He caught me and he held on and no matter how much I struggled, I couldn't get free."
Doering knew it was a lie and put her in a headlock until she became faint and admitted the children were there.
Doering then began talking calmly to the children, making sure they stayed in the house for more than three hours.
Several times, Doering alluded that he was going to commit suicide, Mogck said.
Around 5:45 p.m., Mogck's grandmother, Marlou Mogck, called, saying she would be home in 15 minutes to take the children to bowling league.
Doering ushered the children into a bedroom, and met Marlou as she entered the house.
"We just heard this thud, then it was pure silence for 20 minutes before he came and got us," Mogck said. "When we left the bedroom I was expecting to see blood and this big awful scene, but there was just some scattered papers and stuff."
Mogck later learned Marlou had been tied up, locked in the bathroom so Doering could get the children out of the house and into a car.
Marlou was eventually able to free herself and called 911 to report the abduction.
Meanwhile, the children were on what seemed like "a Sunday family cruise." Doering was driving average speeds, being cautious and was calm, Mogck said.
But then the group passed a sheriff's vehicle.
The sheriff flipped around and Doering began speeding up, reaching speeds of 100 mph, leading police on a chase that spanned 30 minutes. Eventually, police put out a spike strip on a road west of Bridgewater, but Doering swerved into the ditch to avoid it.
Throughout the chase, Mogck attempted to fasten Trevor and Deanna's seat belt, but Doering continued to unbuckle Trevor, telling him, " 'You don't need that, we're just racing,' " Mogck said.
But she knew it wasn't just a game.
Mogck exchanged "I love you" with Deanna, and the pair took Trevor's hands, who was scared and said he didn't want to die.
Shortly after, Doering told the children "We're going to die today," accelerated again, swerved and struck a tree.
Deanna, Trevor and Doering died on impact, and the vehicle quickly became engulfed in flames.
An officer pulled Mogck from the wreckage and laid her on an embankment where she watched the car burn and the reality that she was the only one to make it out alive set in.
"I didn't need anybody to tell me they were gone — I knew," a tearful Mogck said. "I could see my sister burning and I lost it from there. It's so hard being an older sibling and then realizing I couldn't save them."
'Keep moving forward'
Mogck keeps pictures of Deanna and Trevor tucked safely in her wallet, so she can catch a glimpse of them whenever they cross her mind, as they often do.
The events a decade ago shaped much of Mogck's life, from her free spirit rendering her unwilling to stay in one place long, to her desire to pursue a degree in criminal justice, specializing in forensics.
But as she's grown and dealt with her emotions, Mogck said she has grown in ways many of her peers never will.
"Throughout the past 10 years, I've asked myself if I'm any further than I was 10 years ago, and in some aspects I am," Mogck said. "But sometimes I'm still struggling with that feeling of going from a protector of them to feeling lost."
But she wasn't the only one affected by the tragedy.
In the hours after learning that two of the three children had died, Marlou Mogck suffered a heart attack and was airlifted to a Sioux Falls hospital. Almost exactly 10 years later, Marlou had a second heart attack.
Mogck's mother, Lori, had several strokes near the 10-year anniversary of her children's death in June.
And while the physical toll the events have taken are obvious, Lori said the pair has stuck together and made the best of the situation.
"Our motto is to keep moving forward," Lori said. "Even though we've gone through a lot and have struggled to find the silver lining at times, we just keep moving forward."