Tricia Copenhaver: Mother and Survivor

Between work, school and their day to day responsibilities, Tricia Copenhaver and her two daughters, Ashlynn and Brooklynn, treasure spending time together whenever they have a free moment. Tricia was also raised in a family as one of two sisters and understands the emotional bond between siblings. Tricia and her sister, Linae, grew up vacationing at their family’s cabin in Oakley, Utah. The cabin, located near a river nestled in the Uinta Mountains, was the Tiede family’s tranquil and distant retreat from the outside world. In Oakley, they gathered for both summer and  winter holidays, celebrating the seasons and creating new family memories.

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Tricia Copenhaver experienced first-hand a horrific home invasion.

When Tricia Tiede Copenhaver was sixteen-years-old she experienced first-hand the horrors of a home invasion, learning ultimately how to survive in a desperate, life-threatening situation.  Thankfully such tragic is not common so both Linae and Tricia’s continue to share perseverance past tragedy in hopes of inspiring others to push through during any personal struggle.

In 1990, three days before Christmas, Tricia, Linae, their mother, father, and grandmother returned to their Oakley Cabin after a day of shopping. Linae entered the cabin first and was soon confronted by a man in a gray sweatshirt who held her at gunpoint. Soon these robbers pursued to murder the girls mother and grandmother. Shortly after, Tricia and her father arrived at the cabin on snowmobiles, unaware that Linae was being held hostage inside the cabin by the gunmen. As soon as they neared the cabin, one of the attackers emerged from the garage and ordered Tricia and her father inside the cabin. Immediately, one of the men fired his gun at their father, hitting him in the head.  Mr. Tiede laid on the ground still conscious as blood began to pool around him. The two men then set the cabin on fire with their father inside and forced the two sisters to drive them away on the snowmobiles.

It was while driving their attackers on the snowmobiles that Tricia felt her survival instincts truly kick in. Instantly, Tricia began thinking of strategies to escape the gunmen, but knew any decision she made would affect not only her life, but also Linae’s.

Once down the mountain, the two gunmen transferred the daughters to the Tiede’s family car.  Tricia and Linae’s uncle aided in notifying the authorities of their abduction.  Soon after a police chase ensued.  The sisters held on to each other in the back of their parents’ Lincoln, comforting and giving each other strength in the wake of the traumatic home invasion and their subsequent kidnapping. In that moment, Tricia and Linae leaned on each other emotionally, mentally and physically. Going forward the sisters have learned the true significance of what it means to be survivors of a horrific attack.

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The Tiede family cabin was rebuilt in the 1990s.

Since 1990, the sisters have rebuilt the family cabin and now see it as a sanctuary for healing and renewal. Rather than trying to forget or avoid dealing with their traumatic experience, they courageously seek to share it with others so that similar survivors know that they are not alone in their grief and healing. Tricia hopes to spread the survivor spirit and to help others adjust to the consequences of enduring a horrific situation like the one she and Linae experienced together. More than ever, Tricia values her two daughters and the moments they share together. As she said, Tricia sees her parents in her daughters’ eyes and knows that her mother especially would be proud of the way she has embraced her role as a survivor and helped others to do the same.

(Photos: CBS)