As told to ST. JOSEPH NEWS-PRESS reporter Rex Martin- and reprinted by permission in the TRENTON (MO) REPUBLICAN-TIMES- Buzz and Whitney Contrerez were returning to their Mill Grove on U.S. 136 after a night out in Bethany.
When the couple approached State Route CC- they noticed a glow in the sky and smoke rising.
Whitney called 9-1-1 to report the yet-unknown fire- and the couple continued east on U.S. 136 several more miles until they reached the town of Mount Moriah.
It was then that Buzz turned to his wife and asked her if they should turn back- just to be sure.
The couple did turn back- and as they got closer to the glow on Klondike Road east of CC Highway- the couple realized the horror of what what going on.
Running barefoot across a gravel road trying to seek help was Maria Lurten.
Buzz told the NEWS-PRESS's Martin, "“At that point you just have to accept what you see,” Buzz said. “When we saw her in the headlights, honest to God, she looked like something out of a horror movie. The soot, the burns, the blood. It was horrific.
“We just jumped in and did what we had to do to help these people.”
Maria Lurten was in shock- crying that her 18-year-old daughter Brenna (who died in the fire) was trapped in the upstairs of the totally-involved 2-story rural home.
Her husband Brian- burned and suffering serious smoke inhalation- and 11-year-old son Briley- who was badly burned- had taken refuge in a detached garage in the 10-degree weather.
Briley Lurten later died at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City from his severe injuries.
Buzz and Whitney helped carry Briley to the couple's 1999 Escalade- and sped Maria- Brian and Briley to the Harrison County Community Hospital in Bethany before fire crews even arrived at the nearly-destoyed home.
Enroute- they managed to call the Lurtens' eldest daughter who lived elsewhere and tell her the bad news.
The parents continue to recover from their injuries at K.U. Medical Center in Kansas City.
Buzz and Whitney Contrerez are dealing with the trauma they witnessed that Saturday morning- it was highly unusual that they were even out that late as Buzz told the NEWS-PRESS's Rex Martin that "he is usually at home and sound asleep at midnight."
“We were put on that road that night for a reason,” Buzz Contrerez is quoted saying, “and it came from somewhere higher up.”