On Sunday, Louis Johnson kissed his daughter, girlfriend and five grandchildren goodbye as they set off from their Tacoma, Washington, home for a road trip to Las Vegas. Johnson flew to Las Vegas hours later with plans to finish business meetings before joining the family for a week-long family vacation.
The father had no idea that those sweet moments would be the last he spent with his family.
“I kissed them goodbye. I told them, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’ ” Johnson, 50, tells PEOPLE, adding that they all lived in the same home. “I told them to keep me updated. Then the accident happened.”
Johnson’s daughter, Erika Boquet, 29, her three children, his girlfriend, Kyla Brown, 28, and her two children, died Monday morning when a 1999 Toyota4Runner crossed into their lane and smashed into their 2016 Toyota 4Runner around 10 a.m., according to Oregon State Police.
Brown sent Johnson a photo of their location just minutes before the crash, he says. And Johnson recalls getting a “butt dial” phone call from Brown in which he heard commotion. He says he thought nothing of it until hours later, around 6 p.m. when police told him that the family was in an accident, and no one survived.
“When he said, ‘There’s been an accident,’ my whole world changed,” Johnson recalls of the moments the officer broke the news. “They told me there were no survivors. I’m like, ‘How do seven people not survive?’ At least one person always survives, by some miracle. I’ve never seen an accident like that. Seven lives.”
The lone driver of the 1999 Toyota 4Runner, Mark Robert Rundell, 48, also died in the collision. The accident is under investigation.
Boquet, her children Isabella, 11, Elisabeth, 9, and Tytis, 6, as well as Brown and her children Xavier, 2, (who she shared with Johnson) and Arianna, 10, were all pronounced dead at the scene, police said in a statement. The father and grandfather says he was devastated when he got the news.
“I fell on the ground. I wanted to throw myself against a wall. I wanted my pain outside to match what I felt inside,” Johnson says. “I expected them to be there in 30 minutes. They were coming to see me, and that made me feel like it was my fault.”
Johnson returned home to Tacoma and says that although he appreciates the support he’s received, he can barely cope with the deaths.
“I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I have ringing in my ears. You can’t describe the loss, the pain,” the grieving father and grandfather says through tears. “I’m sitting in my home now and they aren’t coming back here. I’m trying to be strong, but my whole world crashed. One moment I don’t want it to be real, then I realize it’s too real.”
Boquet’s brother Jessie Tate has set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money to cover the funeral costs. On Wednesday the family held a vigil for their late relatives, where many came to place candles, cards, and other special items in front of a stone that read, “All Lives Are Precious.”
Johnson says he’s going to miss laughing and playing with his family. He says they all were very close and, although Boquet was older than Brown, she referred to Brown as “mom.”
“I miss everything about them. I miss Kyla telling me to put the seat down, telling Arianna to do her homework. I miss my grandbabies being rambunctious,” he tells PEOPLE. “I miss their lives. I’m dealing with a loss of seven. Everyone in that car meant something to me.”