Schrock Family Forgives Cliff Helm For Deadly Crash

SPOKANE – Clifford Helm goes on trial Monday for vehicular homicide in the deaths of five children of the Schrock family, but the family says despite the collision and the impending trial they’ve forgiven Helm.

Opening arguments begin Monday in the vehicular homicide trial of Clifford Helm, who is accused of driving the truck that crossed the median on Highway 395 north of Spokane in November of 2006 and smashing head-on into a truck driven by Jeff Schrock.

All five of Schrock’s children riding with him were killed.

Jeff Schrock arrived in Spokane Thursday night to testify at Helm’s trial but the family is saying in advance of opening arguments they’ve been able to forgive Clifford Helm.

Jason Schrock and his wife, daughter and son-in-law had been looking forward to this moment for months.

“It’s been almost a year, this is great to see them again,” Jason Schrock, the victims’ grandfather said.

Jeff and Carolyn Schrock flew in Thursday night with their daughter and new son Carl who was born in Belize just a month ago. Thursday night was the first time the family had seen him.

His sister Jolynn, now two-years-old, was born six weeks after the crash that killed her five brothers and sisters.

Spokane County prosecutors paid for the family’s trip from South America so Jeff can testify at Cliff Helm’s trial. Jason Schrock believes this was a tragic accident and their faith calls them to forgive Helm.          

“It’s a response of a Christian to the teachings of Jesus, where he was very clear that we should be forgiving of those who do things against us,” Jason Schrock said.

The Schrock and Helm families have become friends since the crash, sharing meals and doing work projects together. The families sat next to each other in the courtroom during this week’s jury selection.

“We’ve had quite a bit of interaction and it is tough that because we don’t want to see him put away or that sort of thing,” Jason Schrock said.

When asked how he could forgive the man that caused the crash that killed his five grandchildren, Jason Schrock said it was a decision he made long ago, long before the crash, that his faith calls him to forgive those who harmed him.

“It’s not something that comes natural but it’s something that needs to be decided in one’s mind prior to an event like this, if you wait until an event like this and then say how am I going to forgive this man, it won’t work. It’s a condition of the heart,” he said.

“Jesus told us to love our enemies, I don’t consider Cliff an enemy but even our enemies we should love them,” Schrock added.

On Monday morning a judge will decide if the jury gets to hear that the Schrocks have forgiven Helm. Prosecutors want the information barred from the trial saying it has nothing to do with the facts surrounding the fatal crash.