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Conversation with a crash survivor

Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
Kayla Glenn, struck by a motorist who troopers say was under the influence of alcohol and distracted by a cell phone, sits in a wheelchair months later with many more months of healing and rehabilitation to endure.

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

Kayla Glenn was headed home this past fall from her shift at the Wal-Mart store in Hickory when a driver, who troopers said had been drinking and playing with her phone, crossed into Kayla’s lane and struck her vehicle, severely injuring the 21-year-old Lincolnton resident. Months later, she’s still recovering.

With her attorney present, Kayla recounted the night of Nov. 21 for the Times-News while sitting in a wheelchair inside her Finger Street home on Monday.

She sat dressed in a blue cotton T-shirt and black “stretchy” sweatpants, her typical dress these days, with her hair covering the prominent seatbelt scar that stretched across her collarbone, the one she didn’t dislocate in the wreck, she said.

Kayla told her story, talking first about the bright headlights that charged at her vehicle before she was hit.

Lorie Beech, of Broomsage Lane in Lincolnton, traveled into Kayla’s lane after running off the road, overcorrecting her Volvo and crossing the centerline, troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol have previously told the Times-News.

Initially charged with DWI and careless and reckless driving, Beech was additionally charged Sunday with one felony count of serious injury by vehicle and released on a $10,000 secured bond, Trooper C. Casey said.

With a speed of impact that troopers said registered at 45 mph, the crash sent both women to area hospitals.

Before rushing Kayla off to the CMC-Main in Charlotte, firefighters and Emergency Medical Services pried off her Ford station wagon door and cut her out of her seatbelt and shoes, removing her from the vehicle, she said.

Because she couldn’t find her phone after the incident, she said a random man standing near the wreck scene approached her with his cell phone so she could contact her mom. Pamela Glenn was on scene in a matter of minutes, and Kayla was able to see her mom before EMS officials hoisted her into the ambulance.

Before long, medical officials were shining bright lights in her face and doing an ultrasound on her at the hospital.

“I was in and out for a while,” she said of her mental state at the time.

Following four days in the Intensive Care Unit, Kayla was transported to another area of the hospital where she continued to spend her days getting X-rays, CT scans and giving blood, she said. Surgeons also reset her colon and small intestine and temporarily fixed her right ankle until they could better secure it with pins and screws a couple weeks later.

For 23 days, the hospital was her home, and tubes and needles covered her body.

Finally, on Dec. 5, doctors released her into the care of a local rehab facility where, for a week, she worked to regain her strength, she said.

Kayla soon returned to the hospital for a second ankle surgery, staying another week, but before long, she found herself back at home.

However, her days have changed little in terms of medical care.

Not only does she undergo physical and occupational therapy throughout the week, relearning how to do simple things on her own such as take a shower and use the restroom, but she’s also on blood thinner and takes stomach shots twice a day. Kayla said doctors placed her on the medication after a blood clot formed in her lung following her first round of surgery.

Her mom administers the shots, which form hard knots inside her abdomen and often make her sick.

“She’s definitely been through a lot, too,” Kayla noted about her mom.

In addition to a wheelchair, Kayla uses a walker to move around the house and has a special seat to use over the toilet. Her father and brother-in-law also built her a wheelchair ramp, which leads up to the home’s front door. Upon her immediate return home, Kayla also slept in a hospital bed set up inside her living room, but the bed has since been removed from the residence, she said.

Her primary goal at this point is to properly recover.

“Right now, I’m just focusing on getting better,” she said.

A few times a week, friends and out-of-town relatives sit and visit with her. Her two older sisters also stopped by to see her over the holidays.

Later this month, Kayla plans to return to the doctor to receive more X-rays and switch out the cast on her right leg — a cast decorated with colorful words of encouragement from family and friends–with another cast that she’ll wear for three more months.

Doctors told her they hope she can be up and driving again in four months.

According to legal documents, Beech told troopers she had been drinking at a friend’s house before driving her vehicle the night of the crash.

Troopers are still waiting on the State Bureau of Investigation to analyze Beech’s blood sample to determine her exact blood alcohol content during the incident. Casey said it may take between six and eight months to get results.

 

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