• Ohio Car Accident Victim of Drunk Driver Tells Her Real Life Story
  • July 21, 2011
  • Law Firm: Slater Zurz LLP - Akron Office
  • The following is a statement I read at the sentencing hearing of the young man who changed my life (as well as his) when he was driving drunk on a beautiful spring morning in April of 2009. The hearing was on December 31st, 2009.

    My name is Sandy. I’m a retired librarian, having just retired at the end of October of 2008. I started working when I was 16 and worked continuously until my retirement at the age of 62.

    Early in 2009, I contacted Meals on Wheels to volunteer and had been doing that for a couple of months. It’s always been a goal of mine to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity as well and I was going to contact them after establishing my routine with Meals on Wheels. I love working in the dirt and one of the things I really was looking forward to after retirement was working in my yard - planting flowers, weeding and then just sitting and admiring my work! Of course I was also looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends who are already retired and other friends who might just have a day off and want to travel to Amish country or have lunch.

    On Wednesday, April 15th of 2009, all of these dreams and projects came to a screeching halt with the possibility that I might not ever be able to do these things or at best, it would be after a long time until my retirement wishes would happen.

    On April 15th, at approximately 9:15 in the morning, I was driving west on Wooster Road West in Barberton when a young drunk driver crossed the double yellow line and hit my car. It was a day that would ultimately change my life and the lives of so many of my family and friends.

    I feel blessed to be alive today considering the severity of the accident. After being cut out of my car, I was transported to Akron General Hospital. How fortutious that two cars behind the man who hit me was an ambulance! Soon after arriving at the hospital, I had abdominal surgery due to internal bleeding and a small part of my intestine was cut out. As I lay in the emergency room (or perhaps it was after the surgery, it’s such a blur to me), I often saw the faces of my husband, my two children, two of my grandchildren and my brother. Although they all tried to be as positive as possible, the anguish in their faces was frightening. I couldn’t help but be afraid. They all had encouraging words but it was hard to believe them!

    At some point, I had an x-ray to assess the damage, if any, to my neck and spine and it was revealed that I had broken a few, 4, small bones in my lower back - the small bones that are attached to the spine. I was eventually told that these bones would heal themselves and nothing could actually be done.

    After the abdominal surgery, I was taken to a room where I was for eight days. I had a brace around my neck and a tube in my nose for the first couple of days and my left hand was bandaged heavily. There were broken bones in that hand and on Saturday, April 18th, I had plastic surgery on that hand and the surgeon inserted a 2 inch by 1 inch metal plate with six screws. As I progressed, doctors also noticed that my right foot was badly bruised and took x-rays and found that I had broken bones in my toes. 

    During my stay, I also had other x-rays due to swelling in my right leg to rule out any other broken bones. I was extremely bruised, especially on my left side where the impact of the crash was the worst. I also had extensive bruising and pain in my chest due to the air bag deploying and the seat belt cutting into me.

    During my stay in the hospital, I was well taken care of by the staff on the fifth floor and I will be eternally grateful for their support and loving care. I was in extreme pain and they did all they could to help ease my pain and encourage me.

    Upon my return home (on Wednesday, April 22nd), my husband was with me the first few days, as were my brother and my son. The following Monday my husband returned to work, but there was always someone with me when he was not home. That continued for about two weeks and even then I believe that my family and friends were reluctant to leave me alone, which was fine with me since I didn't want to be alone.

    During those early days and months, I had trouble sleeping. I even had a couple of “melt-downs,” where I cried uncontrollably and my family doctor prescribed an anti-depressant for me. She likened my melt-downs to post traumatic stress. It was a very helpless feeling that took quite a while to overcome.

    After a round of doctor’s visits, which included an orthopedic doctor, a neurosurgeon, a hand doctor and the doctor who did the surgery on my abdomen, I began physical therapy twice a week for my spine and neck - to help strengthen them. That lasted for many months as well.

    On the day that I was hit, I was heading to Barberton to pick my son up and take him to a job interview. I found out later that he blamed himself for the accident since he doesn't drive and I was on my way to his house. I can only imagine the guilt that he felt and have done my best to alleviate that and assure him that the driver of the car is the only one who is to blame - he chose to drink and drive.

    Without going into too much more detail, you can only imagine what someone who has been in this sort of an accident has been through. I am extremely lucky (and blessed) to consider myself a “tough” individual who always tries to overcome set-backs in my life. Of course it wasn't always easy and my life definitely changed, but I made up my mind that I would charge on.

    I hated the man who hit me for a long time and I can’t honestly say that I still don’t feel that way. I feel sorry for him and consider him a sad individual whose life must not mean much to him. I can only hope that he gets the help that he needs so that he does not hurt or kill anyone in the future including himself or any member of his family.

    I told the judge and the driver who hit me that he should just “man-up” and do the right thing. He was at fault for a very serious accident and I believed that he should take responsibility. He apologized and said that he knew he had a "problem." He was sentenced to four years in jail - this was not his first drunk driving offense and he also didn't have a driver's license or insurance and he was driving a car that didn't belong to him (which he didn't have permission to drive)!

    After the accident and the healing process, there was still the problem of getting a settlement to pay for damages, etc. While I was still in the hospital, my husband contacted the law firm of Slater & Zurz in Akron and they helped us with this process and we ultimately reached an agreement (after many months) with our insurance company, since the driver didn't have insurance.

    It is now over two years after the accident and I am still thankful every day for my life. As I sat in my car waiting - finding it very hard to breathe, I really didn’t know whether I would survive. Thank God for my life and thank God for all the people in my life who care so much for me!

    To learn more about car accidents and why its important to seek legal help, please visit http://www.slaterzurz.com.