Car accident survivor urges others to buckle up

Car accident survivor urges others to buckle up
The accident (Source: Adams)
The accident (Source: Adams)
Pelvic reconstruction (Source: Adams)
Pelvic reconstruction (Source: Adams)
Adams & Kerbo (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Adams & Kerbo (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Adams (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Adams (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - This week kicks off TxDOT's Click It or Ticket campaign, when officials statewide increase their efforts to ticket anyone not wearing their seat belt on the road.

Last year, TxDOT reports 889 people who did not buckle up died in crashes.

One Lubbock woman, 26-year-old Abbie Adams, said it's a miracle that she's not part of that statistic.

"It took me a long time to get back to driving again," Adams said. "A lot of anxiety was built up, a lot of fear."

It was November 6, 2015, the day before a special date for Adams' friend.

"Four of my girlfriends and I were in a wedding in Amarillo," Adams said.

Adams' whole life changed on that day.

"We just left the church going to the rehearsal dinner and we were going fairly fast." Adams said. "The driver missed the exit and she overcorrected and the car flipped eight times, and I was ejected from the vehicle."

The five women were in an SUV. Adams was in the middle back seat. She blacked out as she was thrown into a field 20 yards away.

She does not remember if her lap belt was fastened.

"They couldn't find me," Adams said, "so my friend who was in the passenger seat, she went out looking for me. She knew that my implant had fallen out and that I wouldn't be able to hear her calling my name."

Without Adams' cochlear implant, she is deaf.

"I remember waking up in the field and asking my friend, 'Where am I?" she said. "What happened to me, and am I going to be okay?'"

Adams was airlifted to an emergency room. All the passengers were hospitalized, but Adams and another woman had critical injuries.

"That was a really hard time for me, to be deaf on top of being unresponsive," Adams said.  "I had no idea what was going on."

Overwhelming pain blurred her perception of everything.

"I ended up having a shattered pelvis, a broken tailbone, and fractured vertebrae's," Adams said. "I dislocated my shoulder, and I messed up my ankle."

What hurt worse than the injuries on her entire left side was the realization that doctors could not restore her independence.

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to walk again," Adams said. "You always wonder why God does some things and why God takes people away, but he saved me…and I always wonder, why did he save me?"

Adams' kept her spirits up during those 26 days bedridden in the hospital, with some encouragement from her students at Edgemere Elementary School in Plainview.

"It has really helped me when my friends sent me videos of my kids and the notes," she said

Before her accident, Adams worked as a speech therapist who shared her disability with several of her students.

"I knew I could give back to young kids at school," she said. "I tell them, 'You're not the only one struggling, you know. Even I had to do speech therapy growing up.'"

Adams called on that fighting spirit, learned at a young age, to overcome her injuries and walk for the first time four months after the accident.

"This looks weird," she said in a video that captured the moment.

Adams counts small victories in her daily battle, through life-mending exercises.

"I work my hardest every day to try to get better," she said.

Adams recently made her way back into her classroom, although she's still in constant pain.

"It's hard just to wake up and know that my back hurts, and my ankle hurts, and my shoulder hurts," she said, through tears. "It's just an everyday process that I've had to get used to."

But Abbie knows that strength comes in all shapes and sizes, like her student, 6-year-old Braedyn Kerbo.

"I came and visit her when she was in the hospital," Kerbo said. "I prayed to Jesus…I love her."

While Adams and Kerbo are still working on many of the same words, she's added something to the lesson plan.

"I show them the [x-ray] of my pelvis reconstruction, and the rods and the screws," she said, "and I say, 'If you don't wear your seatbelt, this is what could happen to you.'"

Once Adams explained everything she went through to Kerbo, he said, "You always need to wear your seatbelt. Even if the window is down."

Adams' reply was, "You need to wear it any time. All the time."

Abbie believes the most important lessons are not taught in school books, but learned the hard way.

"You can't control accidents and traumatic experiences happening to you, but you can control wearing your seatbelt at all times," she said, "in your neighborhood or down the street, or even in the middle back seat of a SUV."

Adams hopes her testimony will make an impact and stay in her students' minds for a lifetime.

"That would mean everything to me," she said, "because I know I'm here for a purpose and a reason, and if I could save one person…I know that I did my job."

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