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I just came across an incredible story in the Tulsa World about a family trying to regain their footing after a tragic collision, caused by a possibly intoxicated driver, shattered their lives. Before you read the story you might want to consider getting some tissues handy and be prepared to be angry. This story involves a two-year old who is now in a wheel chair, a child whose life expired shortly after leaving the womb and two parents horribly injured. The story also involves a possibly intoxicated driver and insurance companies who want to shift the blame to each other instead of compensating this family like they deserve.

I want to take special emphasis not to use the word accident. I always hate to hear that word in preventable automobile collisions. An accident conveys to me that nothing could have been done and the result is simply an act of God. While God often plays his part for reasons we often don’t understand, when a person gets behind the wheel of an automobile, semi or other motorized vehicle while intoxicated, distracted or fatigued, there is no such thing as an accident. The term accident lost its meaning when that person chose to get behind the wheel. It’s now a collision or a wreck but not an accident. Now that I’ve said my peace, let’s get back to the article.

The Collision

This story revolves around a head-on traffic collision that occurred on Oklahoma 82 about 7 1/2 miles north of Tahlequah. According to the incident report, the collision occurred as Oran John Spencer, who was possibly alcohol-impaired, was traveling north when he ran off the road and hit a culvert. He overcorrected into the other lane and struck the family’s car head-on. Results of the blood alcohol test are still pending according to the article.

Coping with the Aftermath

However, that’s just the collision; the heart wrenching details are at the article’s beginning where it states

She’s snuggled under a blanket with her mother on the couch, but she pulls the covers back so you can see her motionless legs and the heavy-duty brace surrounding her tiny torso. She uses her hands to rearrange her feet. "I can’t walk," the 2-year-old says candidly.

This two year old is Jordan Russell. She is currently in a wheel chair and seems to move with the grace and attitude only seen in innocent children. The story states that

The family hopes that Jordan regains feeling in her legs and that she is young enough that she will somehow heal and walk again. "The neurosurgeon said it was in God’s hands. It’s up to God to fix it,"

However, Jordan is not the only family member attempting to recover from horrible injuries suffered in this wreck. Jordan’s step –father, Michael Foutch, just recently came out of his wheelchair after sustaining a head injury, a broken jaw, arm, pelvis and toe. The cartilage in his knee was ripped out, and the pain of that still wakes him in the middle of the night. Jordan’s mother, Vanessa Sunday was seven months’ pregnant and had sustained a broken hip socket, arm, ankle, ribs, a punctured lung and ruptured spleen. She was informed she had undergone an emergency C-section.

So what happened to the baby? Sadly, baby Adyn did not survive the accident and passed away. Vanessa states that

I got to hold him a little while before they took him off the ventilator while he was still alive," Vanessa said. "That was the hardest thing I could ever do."

What about Jordan? As I stated earlier, Jordan is paralyzed from the waist down. However, she seems to handle things in stride but the emotional effects of this tragic collision will weigh on her and this family forever. After the collision, Jordan did not get to see her mother for a month as they were both in different hospitals. Maybe the most heart wrenching aspect is that Jordan knew she had a brother on the way and keeps asking where he is.

Is Anyone Helping Out the Family?

This is the part that makes me angry. While the family is trying to cope and recover the article mentions that they are getting the run around from the insurance companies. So while medical providers send them hundreds of thousands dollars in bills, while the family has lost their home and are living with Michael’s parents, the insurance companies are arguing over which company is responsible. Is the vehicle owner’s insurance or is it the driver’s insurance. While I have several legal answers, that doesn’t satisfy this family. How long will these insurance companies battle while the family suffers? I don’t know but I do know that Oklahoma cannot institute anymore repressive laws against the citizens of its state for the benefit of these insurance companies. For far too long we have heard the echoes of how evil lawyers do X,Y and Z while the irresponsible press seems to forget that there are real life individuals left with shattered lives to pick up. These people need good lawyers willing to battle insurance companies who only view these individuals as a claim number.

How Can You Help?

Now the important aspect. The article mentions that you can help this family by donating. Let’s all show our generosity and do what big insurance refuses to do, let’s help this family! Go to the bottom of the article and the information is there for you to donate and help.

One Comment

  1. Jeremy: This tragic story should be sent to the desks of every member of congress who is considering swapping the rights of accident victims in exchange for comprehensive health care reform. While reforming our health care system is and must continue to be a national priority, stories like this one graphically display the manipulation of a tort system, already heavily weighted in favor of insurance companies and against accident victims. There is no "frivolousness" or "jackpot justice" here, only heartbreak. To consider additional measures that would further penalize victims like these unfortunate folks and benefit insurance companies who try to further victimize the victims would be congressional criminal negligence. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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