One young woman's struggle to recover from injuries sustained in a head-on collision in May has been an interesting journey.
On the way to go fishing with her fiancÚ, Tom Lange, Whitney Vanatti, 22, Brazil, doesn't remember much about the accident that occurred on State Road 59, north of Brazil, in an area just south of the entrance of Christ Community Church around 10:30 a.m., May 20.
"I remember passing Yankee Rose," Vanatti recently told The Brazil Times about the accident that occurred when her vehicle crossed the double yellow line into southbound traffic, striking a Dodge Big Horn 4X4 edition pick up truck pulling a utility trailer head on. "The next thing I remember is waking up as the emergency personnel were moving me to the passenger side to remove me from the car."
The impact bent the frame of the truck, forcing the car's engine to be thrown into a nearby creek. Vanatti's car, which she had only purchased the week before, was totaled in the accident.
"I wish I knew what happened, because I would have answers," Vanatti said. "Then I'm also glad on another hand that I don't remember how bad the accident was. Although they say I was calm and rational enough to give them my mother's phone number, I don't remember much about what happened, and there's a part of me that is not sure I want to know."
Sustaining injuries all over her body, Vanatti said she was taken to Wishard Hospital, Indianapolis, for treatment for a broken eye socket/nose, breaks in the front and back portions of her left clavicle, four broken ribs, a broken pelvis, a broken right femur and right knee cap and a shattered right ankle.
As emergency responders worked with Vanatti, police officials kept her mother Lorie Traver -- who was on the phone with her husband David Traver, a semi-truck driver -- away from the accident scene.
"It was hard not being allowed to be with her, and I admit that it angered me initially, but I really understand that it was their job. I kept in touch with my husband, who helped keep me calm," Traver said about the accident that also injured a local man. "They both were very lucky to survive."
As AirEvac airlifted Vanatti from the scene, her father Leonard Vanatti, who had just been informed about the accident, was waiting outside Great Dane for Lorie to take him to Indianapolis.
"Dad told me he never felt so helpless in his life as when he saw it fly over and knew I was inside," Vanatti said, adding her stepmother Ray Vanatti and other family members quickly followed. "Everyone rushed to the hospital. Our family really came together. There were a lot of people there."
Including a member of Christ Community Church Vanatti's family hadn't met before.
"Jenny Ooley is wonderful," Vanatti said. "She drove all the way to Indianapolis and stayed with me through some pretty tough times. She is such a wonderful person. Janet really opened my eyes."
While Vanatti recuperated in the hospital, people started sending cards and donations to the family to help cover medical expenses.
"I can't say thank you enough to everyone who supported me and my family," she said. "The people at the accident and the hospital staff were awesome. Everyone was so helpful and encouraging."
However, things were not easy.
"Gas prices were terrible," Vanatti said. "But my family members took turns at the hospital so I wouldn't be left alone."
Amid the stress of recovery and mounting medical bills, Vanatti lost her apartment and had to move home when released from the hospital in early July because she couldn't be left alone.
"My mom had to go back to work," she said. "My sister-in-law Shontana Phillips, sister Heather Stewart and little sister Kersandra Traver took care of me."
Soon after, Vanatti's stepfather lost his job, hitting the family's budget even harder.
"Thank God for the Tri County Community Club in Poland. I don't know what we would have done without their help," Vanatti said. "They let people borrow necessary medical equipment without charge. Whatever we needed, they let us have it."
Currently in a wheelchair because she is unable to walk for long periods of time, Vanatti said the area below her knee on the left side is numb.
"Things have been tough, but we're getting through it," she said.
To this point, Vanatti's application for social security benefits has been denied (they have determined Vanatti can work) and the process for filing for Medicaid has not been completed, thus causing financial burdens that are impacting Vanatti's recovery.
"I can't afford rehab," she said, adding more surgical procedures on her right leg will be necessary in the future. "We're doing the best that we can with what the doctors have told us to do. It would be nice to be able to do rehab, but I just can't."
However, the 2006 Northview High School graduate is looking forward to the future.
"I can't work, but I try to keep busy as best as I can with little things that I can do around the house," Vanatti said. "It's boring because I'm not working, but I really want to work."
The accident has also impacted Vanatti's life in unexpected ways.
"I really see the world in a new light," she said. "I didn't attend church before, but I do now. I'm planning my wedding in 2010. I'm not sure what the future holds or exactly what I'm going to do, but it will be something to help others. This has been hard for our family, but we are getting through it together."