Gilroy family injured in fatal accident

Howard and Joyce Hall shown here in their 20s.

Four members of a Gilroy family remain in northern California
hospitals after a July 19 head-on car accident that left a
16-year-old girl dead.
Four members of a Gilroy family remain in northern California hospitals after a July 19 head-on car accident that left a 16-year-old girl dead.

Joyce Hall, 64, Howard Hall, 68, and their two granddaughters suffered major injuries after their pickup truck collided with another vehicle on a highway approximately 20 miles northeast of Stockton, according to the California Highway Patrol and a friend to the family.

“We’ve all been in prayer for them,” said Eric Cho, pastor of Gilroy’s United Methodist Church where the Halls attend service. “They know people in the community. They have deep relationships with people in the community.”

Joyce Hall was admitted to a South Sacramento Kaiser Permanente hospital in critical condition with monitored brain bleeding, along with injuries to her ankle, leg, knees, ribs, lungs and liver, according to Kat Teraji, a family friend and Dispatch columnist who visited the family after the accident.

Teraji said Monday Joyce Hall’s condition had improved from critical to serious, but was still housed in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Howard Hall suffered a broken right leg, broken ribs, internal bleeding and a wealth of bruises, Teraji said. She said was moved from a hospital in French Camp – six miles south of Stockton – to the same hospital as Joyce.

The two had an “emotional reunion” before Howard Hall underwent surgery to repair a shattered leg, Teraji said. Both have had leg surgeries, she said, but Howard Hall hasn’t lost his trademark sense of humor.

“I have always enjoyed my interactions with Howard – such a pleasant, giving and soft-natured, yet spunky personality,” friend Sandra Marlowe said. “I ache for him and his family. I will keep them all in my prayers and loving thoughts.”

The granddaughters, ages 8 and 10, were admitted to the University of California, Davis Children’s Hospital with severe internal injuries, Teraji said. She said the children could be there for at least a month.

Joyce Hall was driving a Toyota pickup on Highway 88 near Brandt Road around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when, for unknown reasons, the truck collided head-on with a Honda sedan driven by 16-year-old Lodi resident Rebekah Renee LaPlante, according to the California Highway Patrol.

LaPlante was pronounced dead at the scene. A 13-year-old female passenger in her car was hospitalized with major injuries, the CHP said.

The two-lane stretch of Highway 88 carries a speed limit of 55 mph, said an officer with the Stockton area CHP office. The crash is under investigation.

The Halls have been very supportive of their church, Marlowe said, with Howard often volunteering as a photographer for concerts and other functions.

“They’re really well-liked,” Marlowe said. “There’s really no way to explain it (the accident). You just deal with it. It just shatters your sense of what’s right in the world, and it’s really, really sad.”

Joyce and Howard Hall have been married 42 years. Joyce Hall’s 65th birthday is Thursday, Teraji said.

Sally Bruckmann, who said she attends church with the Halls, described them as a nature-loving couple who often set off on hikes to explore the California wilderness.

“They’ve been very special people to us,” Bruckmann said. “They’re also the best grandparents you could ever hope for.”

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