HOUSTON – A family has a long road to recovery after its truck exploded in an incident, that investigators are connecting to road rage.
The whole family -- the mother, the father and their 1-year-old and 2-year-old boys -- are now dealing with burns. But, the parents said, they are thankful to have survived.
"Grateful. I mean, God is a merciful God, and I'm so thankful that (my sons) are alive," Reginald Smith, the father, said.
Their 2-year-old son, Messiah, and 1-year-old son, Bentley, were burned from head to toe after fireworks ignited in their truck after the vehicle was shot at on July Fourth.
"(Messiah and Bentley) steal my heart every time, since they were born, but they really showed me their strength with this incident, you know," Smith said.
Smith said the family was excited to light fireworks on the holiday when Smith got into an argument with another man who was driving. Smith said the man then followed their car to a gas station. He said he and the man exchanged words.
Smith said he told the man that the argument was not worth pulling out a gun. When Smith went into the car to drive off, he said the man and pulled out a rifle and opened fire. In the back of Smith's car was $250 worth of fireworks.
"I hear all of the explosions and in that moment you think, 'Man, this is like stuff that's happening in the movies,'" Smith said.
The fireworks began to explode.
"Boom! Boom! Boom! It's happening so fast. It's like a dream and you want to wake up and it all be over," Smith said.
The children caught fire and were burned from head to toe, according to their parents.
"Yeah, that's something that you'll never forget," Wolford said.
"That scream -- to 'almost leave your body' type (of scream) -- it almost broke me," Smith said.
Wolford was able to unbuckle Messiah's belt buckle and Smith was able to pull him out, but Bentley was stuck in the seat. Smith, who was burned on his face and his entire right arm, said he fought through the pain to try and pull their baby boy out.
"He's pulling everything but it's not my baby," Wolford said.
Smith said he was about to give up when he heard but said he heard a voice tell him what to do.
"'Pull his arms,'" Smith said the voice told him.
So Smith said, despite his own instincts, he pulled his son by the arms and despite the fact that the child was in a seat belt, he was freed.
"The truck seat belt -- all of that was still connected but his body just levitated through that," Smith said.
Smith said he believes God was there for his family. Shortly after Bentley was taken out of the car, the car exploded.
"I thank God for everything," Smith said.
The parents said their children are so strong and they are incredibly proud of their resilience.
"Their spirit is just so uplifting," Smith said.
Wolford said she would much rather see them injured but recovering than not have them at all.
"When I have that outlook on it, I'll take this any day," Wolford said.
The parents said the children will be dealing with their injuries for the rest of their lives and have many surgeries and doctors' appointments in their future.
The family set up this GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses: www.Gofundme.com/MessiahandBentley.