Wedding Day Disaster: A Family Torn Apart

April 1, 2014

Lisa says her wedding day turned into a nightmare when she and her Uncle Bill were run over by a minivan while trying to break up a fight, leaving Bill partially paralyzed. Since the accident, Lisa admits that her relationship with her family — and with Bill especially — has been strained. Lisa’s family says they think she’s being selfish and has turned her back on them. Can Dr. Phil help this family heal? Plus, Sarah Jakes, daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes, opens up about her personal struggles — and how she was able to get her life back on track.







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LisaBill, Lisa's uncleNelly, Bill's wifeTheresa, Bill's mother and Lisa's grandmotherDixie, Bill and Nelly's daughterLevi, Lisa's husbandSarah JakesSarah and her father, Bishop T.D. JakesCora Coleman, Sarah's sister

Wedding Day Disaster

Eight months ago, Lisa married Levi in what was supposed to be a fairytale wedding. She says the ceremony went exactly as planned, with her Uncle Bill, who was like a father to her growing up, walking her down the aisle. But then, at the reception, Lisa recalls things spiraled out of control, when three uninvited guests — who she says had been asked to leave — returned, and a fight ensued outside. Lisa says she and Bill were trying to break up the brawl. She says the three guests got into a minivan, and she went to the driver's side, while Bill was on the passenger's side. Lisa says her dress got caught in the driver's side door, and her right foot was run over. Bill's right leg was run over, crushing his pelvis and breaking his hip joint, leaving him partially paralyzed.

Lisa recounts the accident. "My wedding day was a real-life nightmare."

Lisa admits that since the accident, her relationship with her family has been strained. "Every time we get together, we always talk about the wedding ... I feel like it's easier to disengage myself," Lisa says. "I think the family can be a little insensitive to what happened, because it was my wedding day, and I also got run over." She says she feels like she "got robbed" and thinks she deserves another celebration.

Bill says when he was in the hospital, Lisa promised to help out with the family, but since he has been home, she has made herself scarce.

Nelly, Bill's wife, agrees and insists, "Since the wedding, Lisa has turned her back on all of us." She continues, "If my husband was in the room, she would go in the next room. My husband would joke after a while, 'I’m home, I guess Lisa’s leaving now.' He’d say, 'It’s like she hates me.'"

Lisa's grandmother and Bill's mother, Theresa, says she thinks Lisa is being selfish and forgetting that Bill's life has changed forever. "All Lisa cares about is her new life and her new world," she says. "If I could talk to Lisa bluntly, I'd say, 'Wake up, Lisa. Bill is not OK. Bill's family is not OK. You, however, are OK, and you need to step up to the plate and help them.'" She adds, "I suspect Lisa may still be friends with the people who did this to her uncle. Because of her silence, it makes you wonder — is there something Lisa is trying to cover up?"

Onstage, Lisa insists, "We don’t hang out with the people who were in the van at all, and they were told to stay away from me, my husband and the rest of my husband's family."

Feelings of Guilt

Bill’s daughter, Dixie, says she's worried that her father won't be able to walk her down the aisle at her own wedding one day, and she blames Lisa. She claims Lisa escalated the situation that day by pushing one of the uninvited guests. "His wife or girlfriend got really upset, and then she wanted to go after Lisa, and Levi didn’t let her go after Lisa," Dixie says. "That’s when the chaos started." She recalls that right after the accident, she couldn't even be in the same room as Lisa. "I can stand to be around her now, I just don’t talk to her," Dixie says. She adds, "Lisa is always posting things on Facebook about maybe having another wedding, and whether my parents go or not, I do not plan to attend."

"You’re saying she got the healthy dad, and you get the broken dad." And, Lisa becomes emotional: "That's why I hold guilt."

"I don't want to walk in the house and watch him struggle ... I do run from it."

Dr. Phil asks Lisa, "Does it make sense to you that your reaction is: I know you got hurt at my wedding, in my service ... So, I will punish you by withdrawing from you, because I don't like to look at the aftermath? How are you justifying treating them this way?"

"I guess, just being a coward," Lisa replies. "Not being able to stand up and take what happened."

Mending Broken Bonds

Nelly says she and Bill always had a good relationship before the accident, but now, their marriage is suffering. "Bill said people with his injuries usually end up divorcing their spouse within a year. I feel like he’s testing me," she says, through tears. "I feel like I’m trying to hold everybody together, and it's like, how much longer before Lisa starts talking to us and Bill starts laughing again?"

"I feel guilty that I’m not showing the affection to my children and wife that I used to," Bill admits. "She has stayed with me the entire time, but it’s on my part where all the stress is — whether or not, financially and physically, I’m going to be able to get back to where we were."

Nelly explains that Bill hasn't been able to go to physical therapy consistently because of the cost. "Does he go to physical therapy, or do we buy groceries?" she says. "I feel guilty because he's not in therapy, and I think, 'Do I need to work more hours?' I keep smiling and laughing and trying to make everybody fine, and I go to bed, and I can’t sleep, because it's like a ton of bricks on my shoulders."

Theresa says, "It’s one of the worst things that has ever happened in my life. A day that was supposed to be my first granddaughter being married, wearing my mother’s pearls, and watching my son walk her down the aisle ... And then, to see one of them on the ground, my son, lying there screaming in pain. I ran around the other side, and there was Levi rushing to Lisa. She had been dragged on the ground. Which one of them do you take care of? And then, to see the relationships that are being hurt so badly by this."


"People say time heals all wounds. Let me tell you, it’s what you do with that time. It’s not the passage of time."

"I want you to decide that you're not doing this wedding over again, because it wouldn't erase it," Dr. Phil says to Lisa. "I want you to decide that you're all in this together. You [and Bill] were victims together here."

Dr. Phil also offers to make resources available to help Bill get back on track with his physical therapy. "You can’t just choose depression about this and decide, ‘Well, I’m screwed,' because that’s not true," he insists. "You have to be a fighter, and we're going to give you some tools to fight with." Bill accepts the help.

Sarah Jakes: Lost & Found

By the time Sarah Jakes was a teen, her father, Bishop T.D. Jakes, was on the cover of Time magazine, being touted as the next Billy Graham. "My parents traveled the world empowering people with the message of hope. Oprah dined at our home," she recalls. "But still, I ended up pregnant at 13." Sarah says as her father's ministry grew, so did the public scrutiny. "I found myself trapped between the 'Sarah' part that just wanted to be me and the 'Jakes' part that had this mandate that I be in ministry," she says. "As the pastor’s daughter, that naturally made me a leader, but I had no idea what it meant to lead." Sarah recalls sitting down with her family after she found out she was pregnant. "What I remember most about their reaction is the silence," she says. "I felt nothing but shame. There was a lot of tension at the church."

Sarah explains that her new book, Lost & Found, is a product of her personal struggles. "I recognize so well what it’s like to be lost," she says. "I wanted to encourage someone else who maybe feels like they’re just as lost, that they haven’t been lost alone, and if I’m finding my way, maybe they can begin their journey as well."

"I didn't actually tell them." Sarah describes how her parents found out about her pregnancy — from her sister, Cora.

Sarah answers questions from Dr. Phil social  media fans. What's the one message she says she'd give her younger self?