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Local couple relate story of daughters tragic death and their road to redemption in new book
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Turlock couple Nicole and Darren Rodrigues have endured the tragic loss of their first-born daughter and have written a book about their grief and how God restored their lives. - photo by Photo Contributed

On June 25, 1997, Darren and Nicole Rodrigues were plunged into a living nightmare that few could imagine and one that would shake the Turlock couple to their cores. But it was there in the rubble of their lives that the couple found their salvation and the grace to continue living each day.

Their journey through the pain and grief and the faith that united them and gave them hope is detailed in their memoir “Sustained by Grace: A story about how God can take the worst and restore.”

On that fateful day 13 years ago, Darren made his usual trip to his office, but it was a trip that would end with disastrous consequences.

Darren had forgotten to drop Brianna, the couple’s 13-month-old daughter, off at daycare. The little girl remained in the backseat of the vehicle as the mercury climbed to 98 degrees outside and an estimated 136 degrees inside the vehicle. It wasn’t until Nicole went to the daycare to pick up Brianna that the tragic mistake came to light. Efforts to revive Brianna were made, but it was too late. She had died from hyperthermia hours earlier.

The private tragedy garnered headlines locally and nationally and thrust the couple into an unwanted spotlight.

“Sustained by Grace” is the couple’s brutally honest and at times heartbreaking account of how they found the strength through their faith in God and in one another that would enable them to bear such a great loss and come out on the other side of it.

Every moment, from the horrifying discovery of the accident to the legal proceedings against Darren are detailed in the book, with Nicole and Darren each offering up their observations and feelings. Throughout it all is a story of a couple’s relationship with God and how they were sustained by their faith.

“Our main point in telling this story is to spread the word that God can get you through anything,” Darren said. “You just have to grab on and let go of your own agenda and let God get you through.”

“I also hope it’s a story that will allow people the freedom to grieve,” Nicole added. “It’s a journey that is extremely difficult and will be different for each person, but I pray that we give them hope by sharing our story.”

After the death of their daughter, both Darren and Nicole began writing as a form of therapy. Darren said it wasn’t until recently that he thought that by sharing their experience they might be able to help others.

“The idea was exciting, but also daunting and scary because this was my heart I was going to lay out for people,” Nicole said. “But I wanted people to see that there is hope even in the most impossible situations.”

The couple will hold a book “celebration” from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Family Bible Center at 5 East Main St. in Turlock. “Sustained by Grace” is available for purchase in the store.

All proceeds from sales of the book above actual printing costs will be donated to: Brianna Lynne Rodrigues Memorial Fund   c/o Monte Vista Chapel, P.O. Box 1006, Turlock, CA  95381.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.