On April 7, 2006, Anne was a passenger in a horrific automobile accident. The driver lost control on the interstate after running off the road and over correcting. The excessive speed caused the vehicle to vault into the air again and again, each time landing on Anne’s passenger side. On the final flip, the vehicle landed on the guard rail and went down a 15-foot embankment. Somehow, with her numerous injuries, Anne crawled out of the wreckage by herself and yelled for the other passengers to get out.
Chris, a commercial pilot and a soldier in the Army Reserves, was driving several hundred yards behind the SUV when he witnessed the entire devastating event. Once he arrived at the accident, he saw Anne lying on her side and holding her left leg. The driver and other passengers did not appear to be injured. Chris raced back to his car, grabbed his Army Combat Lifesaver Medical Kit and ran back to care for Anne’s wounds—a compound fracture of her left leg, two broken ankles, torn knee ligaments and a broken right foot. Chris soon discovered that Anne’s left foot, buried in the dirt, had been severed across the insole—almost half of her foot was completely gone. With a brave Anne at his side, Chris bandaged and held the foot tightly to stop the blood flow.
It had been almost 40 minutes since the first 911 call was made when the emergency helicopter arrived. The medical transport crew flew Anne to the nearest hospital. After 10 surgeries in the 23 days after the accident, Anne had a tormenting decision to make. Doctors could continue numerous surgeries on her partial foot—with no guarantees that it would heal properly—or they could amputate below the knee, requiring Anne to have a prosthetic leg. After much agonizing, Anne courageously decided on the amputation.
With a positive attitude, Anne went to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to be fitted for a prosthesis and begin physical therapy. A fellow patient with a similar situation and the friendly staff at Children’s made Anne more confident in her decision to have a prosthetic leg.
In the fall, only four months after the accident and one month after receiving her prosthetic leg, Anne was back at college earning A’s and resuming her favorite pastimes. Anne and her family have become close friends with Chris, and in November, Anne’s rescuer was on reserve duty in Atlanta and unable to go home to his family for Thanksgiving. He was invited to spend the holiday with Anne and her family.
Chris recently received the highest award for noncombat actions from the Governor of Tennessee for his quick response, grace under pressure and combat lifesaving skills that saved Anne’s life. Chris was surprised to receive the award, and even more surprised when Anne walked over with her new leg to congratulate him during the ceremony.