This 17-Year-Old Was Paralyzed In A Car Crash. But Just One Month Later A Miracle Took Place

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When teenager Lacy Johnson hopped into the car belonging to her closest friend’s mom in June 2019, she couldn’t possibly have known how significant that journey would become. Because, as it turned out, her friend’s mom was actually epileptic. And when she started suffering from a seizure behind the wheel, disaster struck.

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As Johnson’s driver slipped into an epileptic fit, the teenager realized that she had to act fast. After all, the car was now barreling forward with no one in control. But from her position as a passenger, she was unable to reach forward to take command of the wayward automobile.

Image: Cathy Lacy/GoFundMe

In the heat of the moment, Johnson managed to unfasten her safety belt. She presumably intended to get into an appropriate position in the driver’s seat to take over from her friend’s incapacitated mother. But before she could grab the wheel and apply the brakes, the car came to crashing stop – and her life changed forever.

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Up until the point of this fateful incident, Johnson had reportedly been a regular 17-year-old girl. Indeed, according to family members, she was a bright and sharp individual. Yet her life had not been without its trials. In fact, the teen herself had been going through a period of loss.

Image: Cathy Lacy/GoFundMe

Together with four brothers and sisters, Johnson had been mourning the recent passing of her grandma. This woman had been raising the five siblings and her death had only occurred about a year before the 17-year-old’s accident. So it had already been a fraught time for the adolescent and her family.

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Of course, there’s never a good time for a young family member to become involved in a life-altering accident. But given the already trying time that they were going through, Johnson’s car crash was devastating to her family. And initially, it was unclear whether or not the young girl would even survive her injuries.

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The incident came about as the result of Johnson’s driver – the mother of her friend – suffering from an epileptic fit. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal. [This causes] seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and, sometimes, loss of awareness.”

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Any given individual is capable of developing epilepsy, be they male or female. Yet those with the disorder might have vastly different symptoms from one another. For instance, some people experiencing a seizure might simply appear to space out for a moment. Whereas others might exhibit violent movements of their body.

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There are, however, a number of medicines available which can help alleviate seizures brought about by epilepsy. In fact, in recent years a number of new products have come on the market to help in this endeavor. But for a sizable minority of sufferers, seizures can prove quite hard to manage.

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Given the nature of seizures, people can be placed in danger if one occurs at an inopportune moment. For example, the Mayo Clinic claims that epileptics are between 15 and 19 times more inclined to die by drowning than other people. After all, if a person suffers a seizure in the bath or while swimming, emerging safely might prove difficult.

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Driving, too, can be a deadly pursuit for people living with epilepsy. Consequently, there tend to be certain restrictions upon sufferers of the disorder getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. However, those able to demonstrate that their illness is under control are often permitted to drive.

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Throughout America, in fact, epileptics are allowed to drive if their disorder is manageable. The specifics, though, differ from state to state. For instance, in six states an epileptic person’s doctor is obligated to inform the relevant authorities of the diagnosis. Whereas in the remaining 44 states, the patient must do so themselves.

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If an epileptic person in America can prove that they haven’t suffered a fit in the last three to 12 months, they can drive. But these regulations are by no means entirely infallible and accidents can still occur. And as we can see from Lacy Johnson’s story, the consequences can be very serious indeed.

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On June 7, 2019, Johnson was a passenger inside a car driven by her friend’s mom. At some point during the journey, as we know now, this woman started having a seizure. So the 17-year-old took off her safety belt to try to bring the vehicle under her control. But she was too late.

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With Johnson unrestrained, the car veered off from its course and smashed into the curb. Then, it collided with a second vehicle powering down the road. The car transporting the teen, her pal and her pal’s mother then flipped over. The 17-year-old was tossed out from the vehicle and onto the hard ground.

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Speaking to ABC 13 News less than a month after the shocking incident occurred, one of Johnson’s aunts described what had actually happened on that fateful day. “[The women] were in the car, the driver started to seize and the accident happened,” she told the network. “The vehicle flipped three times.”

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In the wake of the accident, Johnson was transported to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center’s Red Duke Trauma Institute in Houston. She was taken there by the Life Flight service. Established in 1976, Life Flight sees emergency patients rushed away by air to receive hospital care.

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When Johnson arrived at the medical facility, the extent of her injuries became clear. In fact, the teen’s carers were even compelled to inform her family that her life was very much at risk. And considering the wounds she’d sustained, it’s not surprising that her ability to recover was questionable.

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During the accident, Johnson reportedly fractured her spine in four different positions. The flesh on her arm was so badly torn that the bone was visible and her liver had been left acutely impaired. One of the teenager’s lungs had collapsed and many of her other organs were left bruised. And, most disturbingly, her skull had actually come away from her spine.

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Johnson’s aunt detailed these shocking injuries to ABC 13 News in the month after the accident occurred. “Our baby is bleeding from her abdomen [and her] liver. We are told that she has her spine broken in four different areas,” the devastated family member stated. “She had to have her skull reattached.”

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As a result of Johnson’s injuries, she was initially only able to breathe with the assistance of specialized equipment. And on top of that, the teen’s left side succumbed to paralysis. The sensitivity of her right side, meanwhile, was compromised. All of which meant that the 17-year-old was in a state that would require a number of surgical procedures.

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“[Lacy] has had over nine procedures,” Johnson’s aunt said, as reported by Click 2 Houston in June 2019. But grueling as these operations must surely have been, eventually the teen’s condition stabilized. So with the initial threat to her life now apparently under control, the work towards her recovery could begin.

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As June melted into July, Johnson was in the process of attempting to restore the functions of her body. But given the severity of her injuries as well as the subsequent paralysis, that was no easy task. However, as her aunt told ABC 13 News, the teenager had people around her all the way.

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“We put pictures up in [Lacy’s] room. She said, ‘I’m fighting for them,’ and the ‘them’ is her sisters and brothers,” Johnson’s aunt said. “We try to remind her that together, we are going to get [her] through this.” But, of course, certain days were less manageable than others.

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But despite the obvious hurdles facing the teen, her family expressed optimism in the wake of the accident. Her aunt, in fact, was quick to point out her niece’s strength of character to Click 2 Houston. “[Lacy] has a lot of wit and is a firecracker,” she stated. “That’s how I know she is going to pull through.”

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And even though there was still a long way to go, Johnson’s doctors quickly expressed that things were going well. That proclamation, in fact, came less than a month after the accident actually occurred. The teen, it seemed, was working hard to take back her health. But she wasn’t alone.

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A number of weeks after Johnson’s accident, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for the teenager and her family. After all, it wasn’t just the 17-year-old herself that the incident affected. A number of her brothers and sisters were still in school – and they required care as well.

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As of the middle of August 2019, the GoFundMe page had raised just over $12,000 for Johnson and her family. Indeed, in the month or so since it had been created, the page received donations from over 200 people. And many left comments in support of the recovering teenager.

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“Stay strong,” one individual wrote in the comments section of the fund-raising page dedicated to Johnson and her clan. “It can become way too easy at times to ease off the hard work of recovery. Self-motivation can sometimes diminish on bad days. Don’t give in to the enemy. Stay strong.”

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And another person wrote, “Lacy’s story touched my heart. I’m also well aware of how minor things – like the cost of daily parking in the [hospital] – can be a worry and a distraction to a family in crisis. Prayers for your continued recovery and also for your supportive and loving family.”

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That same month, it seemed like Johnson’s strength of character and all the support she’d been receiving was paying off. Indeed, with the help of therapy sessions, the teenager had managed to restore the capabilities of her arm and leg on her left side. She was, in fact, even able to walk once more.

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Clearly, the teen’s recovery was going well. As an update on Johnson’s GoFundMe page put it, “Lacy, determined to walk again, did whatever the therapist instructed her to do! Lacy being here today is nothing but a miracle!” Indeed, given the initially grim prognosis, one might be forgiven for deeming her speedy improvement nothing short of miraculous.

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And just under two months after the terrible accident, Johnson herself was even chatting to the press about her situation. If her words are anything to go by, it seems that the teenager’s speedy recovery had reaffirmed her faith. Speaking to the Mail Online, she said, “God is real, because I’m not supposed to here right now.”

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Johnson also updated the website about her progress in physical therapy. “I learned how to walk up and down stairs. I walked on a treadmill, that was weird,” she said. “I’m mostly working on my left arm, picking stuff up and putting stuff down and I’m just ready to go home.”

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And it appears that the teenager’s wish came true shortly after she spoke to Mail Online. The website, in fact, suggested that she was due to be released from hospital within a matter of days of that article’s publication. But, of course, going home wouldn’t mean an end to the hard work required of Johnson.

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As the Mail Online reported, Johnson would still require regular therapy sessions each week in order to support her recovery. But she wouldn’t yet be in a position to rejoin her classmates at school. In fact, the article suggested that she would be educated from home for a number of months before returning to Houston’s Cypress Ridge High.

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And Johnson herself appeared to be eager to pick up on her education. She even went as far as to express her future plans to the Mail Online. “I want to be an advocate and talk to juvenile [delinquents],” the teen said. “I was a bad kid and I want to tell them it’s not worth it.”

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But first things first, because there’s the matter of Johnson’s recovery to manage. And while things have undoubtedly been going very well for the teen, the process is far from complete. But, thankfully, she’s been receiving lots of support. Donors to the GoFundMe page, in fact, will ultimately be helping to pay for medical apparatus and home renovations to make her home disability-friendly.

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In the meantime, Johnson’s family members have expressed their gratitude to all those that have helped them throughout the trying time. After all, it can’t have been remotely easy. “We are just doing exactly what God gave us [the] responsibility of doing,” the teen’s aunt told ABC 13 News. “And that’s to take care of her and protect her.”

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With the support of family, friends and well-wishers, Johnson has learned how to walk again in a short period of time. Yet the accident undoubtedly altered her life and a more complete recovery will take a lot more work. Her GoFundMe page, in fact, summed up the situation quite concisely. “Her story is not over,” it says. “She’s just on to a new chapter.”

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