ARGYLE — Cory Dixon, 24, was mowing the lawn at his family’s home as the sun set Friday, but a little after 8 p.m., the lawn mower broke.
He called his mother, LeAnn Miller, who was in New Mexico on a road trip with her husband, Michael, and their two children, Miles and Zoey. They had been up to Colorado and to Yellowstone Park, Idaho and Utah and were in New Mexico.
Dixon spoke with his mother for about 10 minutes before hanging up at 8:31 p.m.
Eight minutes later, the first call came in to authorities about a head-on collision that killed all four of his family members.
“I think God just had a plan, and he allowed me to talk to her one last time, and that’s all I can ask for in a situation like this — just the fact I got to talk to her,” Dixon said Saturday evening outside the family home.
LeAnn Miller, 48; Michael Miller, 47; Zoey, 12; and Miles, 7, were killed instantly when a pickup collided with the family’s van on U.S. Highway 550 about 20 miles south of Bloomfield, New Mexico.
The truck’s driver, Brian Lee, 24, became fatigued while driving north and crossed the center line of the highway, crashing head-on into the van, according to New Mexico State Police. At the time of the crash, police said, Michael Miller was the only one in the van wearing a seat belt.
Lee was hospitalized with injuries that were not deemed life-threatening.
Zoey and Miles Miller, who were Dixon’s half-siblings, were set to start school Aug. 25 in Argyle.
Zoey, who would have entered sixth grade, was involved in band, volleyball and cheerleading, Dixon said. Miles would have started second grade.
LeAnn Miller was also involved in the schools, where she regularly volunteered and did fundraisers for the district, said Dixon, who graduated from Argyle High School in 2008.
“She fulfilled her purpose on Earth and what she was supposed to do,” Dixon said of his mother. “She was a great mom and a great role model for me, my brother and sister.”
Michael Miller helped out Miles in Cub Scout activities, while LeAnn Miller helped Zoey participate in Girl Scouts.
The family was also passionate about animals, Dixon said. At their Argyle home, there are two horses, three dogs, two cats, rabbits and hermit crabs.
“It’s what their passion was — to take care of other things and other people,” Dixon said.
Dixon had recently moved back to Argyle after graduating from the University of New Orleans, where he had played varsity basketball.
His stepfather, Michael Miller, founded MM Search Group in 2013, and LeAnn Miller also worked at the business. The company specialized in recruiting professionals for architecture, engineering, real estate and construction positions. Michael Miller previously served as a vice president at Gillham, Golbeck & Associates in Dallas for nine years.
A candlelight vigil is planned for 5 p.m. today at Argyle United Methodist Church, 9033 Fort Worth Drive.
Guidance counselor Michael Ball planned to be at Hilltop Elementary School to assist children between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.