Aug 06, 2016 - STUDENT SHARES HER STORY OF RECOVERY AFTER CRASH INVOLVING IMPAIRED DRIVER

MJ Appleby is haunted by thoughts of the impaired driver who nearly killed her.

A 22-year-old nursing student and striker/midfielder on the Lethbridge College Kodiaks soccer team, Appleby recently visited summer students at W.P. Wagner High School to share her story about how in a blink of an eye, her world changed forever.

On June 21, 2015, Appleby was heading home to St. Albert after visiting one of her classmates in Saskatchewan. She couldn’t wait to get home and cook her dad a Father’s Day dinner.

But just outside of Vegreville, an impaired driver travelling erratically on the other side of the road drove all the way across the other side of the Yellowhead highway and slammed into Appleby.

“I remember the pain in my chest was unbearable, and my face was burning, and I was struggling to get myself out of the vehicle. When I finally was able to get out, I could see her vehicle in the ditch. I felt responsible because I hit her,” recalled Appleby.

“I kept yelling, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry… are you OK?’”

Appleby suffered multiple injuries that included a serious concussion. There was a moment when everything went dark and she remembers opening her eyes and seeing paramedics standing over her trying to keep her stable.

“My heart was racing. From the bottom of my heart, I thought it was my fault. How could I not swerve more? Why didn’t I hit the brakes harder?,” said Appleby.
“I thought I killed this woman… that I did something wrong.”

But she couldn’t be more wrong.

Paramedics got Appleby and the other driver into the same ambulance, and that’s when it started to sink in that it wasn’t her fault at all.

“Just hearing her voice, and the intense smell of alcohol inside the ambulance, and the words that came out of her mouth… absolutely haunt me,” said Appleby, who as a result of the crash still suffers from radiating pain down the left side of her body.

“They asked her if she had anything to drink, and she said… yeah, at least half a 2-6.”

The crash certainly left a physical impact on Appleby, but it may have affected her even more mentally.

Months of intense physical and psychiatric therapy followed. She was no longer able to play soccer, but she wasn’t going to let her studies suffer.

“My brain wasn’t ready to go back to school, but this crash wasn’t going to stop my drive from studying to become a nurse,” said Appleby, who had great support from family, the MADD Edmonton chapter, her teammates, coaches, classmates and instructors.

“I worked hard and I achieved a 3.6 GPA, my highest so far.”

But the emotional trauma continued. Anxiety, depression and scary thoughts took her down a dark path for a period of time. Young college students are known to feel invincible. She doesn’t feel that anymore.

“Any time I get in a car, I wonder who around me is impaired. Every time I know my family and friends are out on the road, I wonder who’s out on the roads impaired?,” said Appleby.

The long road continues for Appleby, but she’s committed to speaking out against the dangers of impaired driving in hopes of making a difference. 

“Going through an experience like this, it changes your life. You get sent down such a dark path. You question why you survive something like this. I’ve become a completely different person now,” said Appleby.

“I regret what happened to me, I don’t wish that kind of pain to anyone, but I don’t regret being a survivor of what happened. Now I can share my story, and as hard as it’s been, if I can change one person’s mind about the dangers of impaired driving, it’s totally worth it.”

Source: Edmonton Journal


Last updated on: 2016-08-17 | Link to this post