PROSSER -- For Jan Rennebohm and Joe Toregrase, everything now is measured by before July 21 -- and after.
The Prosser couple, together for 23 years, enjoyed spending time at their three-acre homestead.
Rennebohm tended to the house and yard for hours each day. Toregrase worked on his cars and motorcycles in an immense shop.
They had reaffirmed their faith in God the weekend before and were ready to make their commitment to each other official, when it all was shattered by a driver high on drugs on a rural highway.
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Rennebohm and Toregrase were returning from an errand in Benton City when a truck slammed into their motorcycle, leaving both crushed and bleeding in a ditch.
Now six months and numerous surgeries later, they struggle with severe injuries and depression.
Each lost a leg and both have limited use of an arm and hand.
"We can't stand each other. We still love each other, but we don't like each other anymore," Rennebohm told the Herald. "Everybody keeps telling us how lucky we are that we're still alive. We're not sure. We don't know that this is life."
No memory of crash
Toregrase, 46, first moved from Everett to the Tri-Cities 51/2 years ago for a job with Russ Dean Ford. Rennebohm, 62, followed a couple of years later after retiring from the state Department of Transportation. Together they bought a home in Prosser.
Toregrase, who has been working on Harley-Davidsons since the '80s, eventually took a job selling parts at Rattlesnake Mountain Harley-Davidson in Kennewick. They own several motorcycles and often rode in their free time.
Last summer, they took Toregrase's new Harley-Davidson Road King out for a ride on July 21. They stopped for gas in Benton City, then set off west on the Old Inland Empire Highway.
They were three minutes from home at 9:45 p.m. when a 2012 GMC truck going in the opposite direction slammed into the westbound motorcycle near Knox Road.
Toregrase said he was driving cautiously under the speed limit because it was a dark night, and he wanted to avoid any animals crossing the road.
He remembers the GMC hitting their cycle, the truck reversing and hitting him again and then a tire coming off before the truck continued down the road. Doctors believe the GMC's side mirror bashed him in the head, causing some hearing loss and brain damage.
Rennebohm doesn't recall the collision, though her memory slowly is coming back. What is clear is she was conscious enough to pull a cellphone from her pocket and dial 911.
As sheriff's deputies were speeding to the scene, dispatchers got a report from OnStar, a satellite communication service, that an airbag had deployed in a truck in the same area and the driver was not responding.
When the driver, Chad Michael Sehnert of Benton City, was found in the truck, he said he had been in a hit-and-run with another vehicle that took off.
Yet, deputies found his tire near the crushed motorcycle, along with a mile-long gouge in the road from the cycle to Sehnert's truck. He was arrested and taken to jail that night.
Down the road, Rennebohm and Toregrase were rushed to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, where both needed blood transfusions before being sent to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Neither remembers much about the frenzy to save their lives.
A prosthetic life
To this day, they still don't know what happened to their rings -- each wore to symbolize their longtime commitment. The bands had to be cut off during their initial treatment. They also are missing $685 from Toregrase's wallet.
Toregrase later was told his heart stopped several times in the following days, and he spent a long time in a medically induced coma. Sometimes he thinks he "would have been better" if doctors had let him die, but acknowledges he is a survivor.
He later learned that doctors tried for three days to save his left leg before finally amputating it below the knee. Officials initially thought he would lose both but doctors managed to save his right leg.
And his badly crushed left arm was saved after several surgeries to implant steel plates. He now can move his fingers and has surpassed what doctors thought he would be able to do.
Rennebohm's left leg also had to be amputated, and she also has steel plates in her arm because nerve damage left her with no use of that hand. But there is hope the nerves will regenerate someday.
Both of them spent time in rehabilitation facilities after their release from Harborview. Toregrase eventually returned home, while Rennebohm lived with one of her two grown daughters in Seattle for a while to be near her doctors.
During those months in treatment, the couple said they were not able to find out each other's condition because they are not married. It did not matter that they had been together for almost a quarter-century.
"Not being able to see how each other was in the hospital, that was more devastating to me than anything," said Toregrase, who also has two grown daughters. He prayed that Rennebohm wasn't hurt and was sorry to learn the truth.
He was fitted for a prosthetic leg made of carbon fiber and is learning to use it.
Rennebohm is having more trouble adjusting to using a prosthesis, even suffering anxiety attacks. She would rather use her wheelchair than worry about falling with her heavy, fiberglass leg.
"I don't look in the mirror. Sitting here doesn't creep me out, but when I stand up and look in the mirror and realize I don't have a leg ...," Rennebohm said, her voice trailing off. "It only hits me when I'm looking at him."
Toregrase isn't ready to give up on her and is confident one day she will be able to move around without a walker if she gets a better and lighter prosthesis.
"I know she will get there because she wants too much out of life to lay down now. We both want too much out of life to just lay down and die now," he said.
Toregrase admits that being an amputee can affect the simplest things in life, even getting dressed by yourself.
"I took these things for granted so much before. Now I realize how cool it is to have legs," he said. "We've seen a whole new perspective on life on what it's like to not have legs."
'Smacked a little more harder'
They realize that no matter what the punishment is for the reckless driver, nothing ever will be the same.
At the same time they feel cheated by the justice system because while they face a new and uncertain future, Chad Sehnert, 34, can go back to his normal life after serving a relatively short prison term.
"He'll get out, and we'll still be sitting here like this," Rennebohm said.
Sehnert is to be sentenced Thursday in Benton County Superior Court. His modified guilty plea earlier this month to two counts of vehicular assault with aggravating circumstances means he denies committing the crime but believes prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.
Rennebohm and Toregrase plan to be at the hearing so Sehnert can see what he did to them after a night of partying. Prosecutors said Sehnert was driving under the influence of methadone.
Deputy Prosecutor Megan Killgore plans to recommend a two-year prison sentence and drug addiction treatment.
"It's a tragic situation. There is really no other word to describe it with what they've gone through, and their lives have been irrevocably changed," Killgore said.
Despite their bitterness, Rennebohm said, "It's real hard for us, but we actually pray for the guy that hit us."
Toregrase said that is because he thinks Sehnert didn't mean any harm when he first got behind the wheel, though he believes Sehnert should have gotten attempted murder for backing up and hitting him a second time.
"We feel cheated, that's what it gets down to," Toregrase said. "We think (Sehnert) should be smacked a little more harder."
Learning to live again
Rennebohm said if there is any lesson to be shared about their ordeal, it is "to get your stuff in order."
She admits it was a huge hassle because they aren't married, and said they have since completed wills.
The wreck and its aftermath also brought their family and friends together on Facebook, she said.
"The accident has opened our eyes to how important we are to each other," she said, adding that she has a "whole different kind of new love" for Toregrase. They plan to marry once they are feeling a little better and, honestly, when they like each other more.
Rennebohm and Toregrase know they have a battle ahead, but both believe they can overcome those obstacles by being there for each other.
"We can do things together that we can't do alone," she said. They have resumed cooking and have discovered that they must do some things together -- like making the bed and vacuuming.
"For me it's not what didn't kill me that is making me strong. For me, what didn't kill me is making me angry," Rennebohm said, adding that she has found many people will ignore her when she is clearly struggling in public and could use help with groceries or another task.
Before the crash, the couple were living comfortably with a financial cushion, but Toregrase is no longer working and there is a pile of medical bills.
"What am I going to do for the rest of my life? We worked real hard," he said. "I have no leg. I can't provide for my family anymore, and it pisses me off. I know money isn't everything, but I want something."
Toregrase said his job at Harley-Davidson was on the second floor, and for now he can't negotiate stairs. But he isn't giving up and hopes to work again.
He also has dreams of getting back on a motorcycle one day. "I don't know if I want to ride so much as I can show everybody I went through this horrible thing and I can ride again."