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One Year Later: Senior Recovers from Major Car Accident
November 10, 2022
Red and blue lights fill the scene, illuminating shattered glass and pieces of the red Jeep scattered across the road. Worship music plays from her phone in the nearby ditch as she is wheeled away on a stretcher.
“The light turned green, I started driving, and then all of a sudden I saw these lights coming at me really, really fast. I looked to my left, and it was already smashing. I subconsciously remember crashing noises, but [the] next thing I remember is staples going into my head.”
On the way home from her Wednesday day night youth group, the driver of a grey Dodge Journey ran a red light and hit senior Savannah Stewart in a broadside collision. One year later, she still remembers the details of the night.
“The day of the wreck [is] really important to me because, you never know how a normal day is just going to change. I led FCA. I went to school. I went to practice. And then I went home. It was just a normal day,” Stewart said. “I went home [at about] eight o’clock at night, I started driving, and then he hit me.”
After the collision, Stewart spent 12 days in the hospital recovering, where she received 21 staples, a rib block to help with the pain of broken ribs and a screw to keep her hip in its correct location, which was three pinpoints away from paralyzation of her legs.
“For five or six months after the wreck, I had really bad nerve pain. It was hard fighting through that, and then it finally started getting better, but I still have it come back every once in a while,” Stewart said. “That’s the only lasting thing, but the bolt is still in my hip, the rod still goes from one side to the other.”
Doctors warned her she may never safely pole vault again with the stress it puts on the body. Stewart planned to return to the track team as a manager so she could spend the season with her teammates, despite not being able to participate in the meets.
“I couldn’t walk for two months, and then I couldn’t do anything but walk for a month, so I wasn’t allowed to run or jump, any of that stuff, [and] we all assumed that I would not be pole vaulting. My physical therapist [cleared me to] start running again, so I just slowly got back into it,” Stewart said. “I think my very first track meet I jumped 7 feet, then I was 7 feet 6 inches and then 8 feet. I jumped 9 feet 6 inches at the district track meet. I jumped 9 feet 6 inches at the area meet, and qualified for regionals and at regionals I jumped 10 feet.”
Close friends and family supported Stewart in various ways while she was in the hospital, some sending encouraging videos and slideshows, and some visiting her when she recovered in the hospital and at home when she was released.
“They were terrified, traumatized. Everybody was texting me saying that they were crying and I know some of my friends thought I was dying because they didn’t know the whole story,” Stewart said. “People were very scared. I got way more attention than I thought I ever would from the whole school knowing about it. Everybody came to see me and we released balloons in the garden by the hospital. It just showed me that everybody was there for me.”
Senior Autumn Hurta planned gatherings and coordinated a 10-minute-long video with encouragement from all of her friends and people in her life for Stewart when she was in the hospital.
“I [remember] my mom coming into my room and yelling to turn on the lights. She told me that Savannah had been in a really, really bad wreck. I texted her mom and asked what had happened and she filled me in,” Hurta said. “I didn’t get to see her until I organized everyone to go see her in the garden.”
While she wasn’t involved in the wreck, Hurta recognizes the impact it had on her life and the way she interacts with people.
“It put so much into perspective. I [realized] that I’m taking too much for granted right now. [Now,] I tell my friends I love them every time before I leave, and I don’t end things in arguments,” Hurta said. “It put into perspective how quickly things could be taken away from you.”
Stewart made a full recovery after the wreck and currently serves as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) president, as well as senior class secretary and a pole vaulter on the track team. She plans to attend Texas Tech University after she graduates to study kinesiology and become a physical therapist.
“Mentally, I think the wreck has shown me that I can come out of anything. I know to not be worried about everyday little things because I know that it’s gonna work out for the better,” Stewart said. “I really learned to live life to the fullest, knowing that God has a plan for my life, no matter what. You really don’t know when your life could change. It could be an instant.”