Accident victim: ‘I’m sorry’ – 12-year-old searching for woman who held her
Trapped inside the overturned car with her older sister, niece and nephew, 12-year-old Hannah Tucker could see the headstones of McKenzie Monuments along Highway 167 even in the dark.
“I thought, ‘My mom is going to have to come back and pick one of these out.”
What started out as a Fourth of July celebration ended with what Tucker considers a nightmare when on their way home from watching the fireworks in Batesville a deer ran in front of her sister Jayme Lee’s car near Pfeiffer. Swerving to miss the animal, the Dodge overturned multiple times, also trapping Lee’s children, Gabriel Lee-Babbini, 6, and 2-year-old Isabella Lee-Babbini.
The dust had all but settled when Katrina Lee came upon the wreck. She knew it was bad and told her son in the passenger seat to pray for the people involved.
Knowing her own children were ahead of her as they drove back toward Cave City, she got on the phone. “I tried to call (Jayme), but I couldn’t get through.” Hannah’s phone was dead too.
With dozens of people around, Katrina parked her car and overheard someone mention a baby, a boy on the ground and two others still in the car. She knew the family was hers.
Hysterical, she began screaming for help.
It wasn’t in short supply — a far cry from weeks earlier when John and Michelle Rogers of Zion were thrown from their motorcycle in a head-on collision at Pfeiffer by an alleged drunk driver and say there were many witnesses but very few came to their aid.
Whether it was because so many people were returning from holiday festivities, or a possible gas leak in the area had many worried, Katrina doesn’t know.
However, Jayme, Hannah, Bella and Gabriel each had three to four people tending to them, cutting them from the wreckage, directing traffic and trying to keep them calm, all before the ambulance arrived, she said.
“Someone was holding my grandbaby and said, ‘I’ve been a nurse for 26 years, she’s going to be OK.’”
Nearby, Hannah just wanted her mother.
It was a woman, whom Hannah doesn’t know, who held her in her lap, trying to keep her head and neck still. “She was trying to help me but I was ignoring her. … I kept screaming ‘I want my mommy!’” said Hannah, who now wants to find the woman to apologize.
“I need to tell her I’m sorry.”
At the hospital, Katrina couldn’t believe the number of people there showing concern and tending to her family, including her pastor’s wife who is a nurse. (Katrina of Evening Shade attends Grace Country Church of Sidney.) A woman from the scene had collected all the personal belongings from the car, filling several bags, and brought them to the hospital.
Police told Katrina that people don’t usually walk away from an accident like theirs. Hannah and Jayme, 23, suffered concussions. Jayme, who lives in Cave City, also has deep bruising, but Bella is fine.
Gabriel knew all along he was going to be OK even at the scene where he answered questions matter-of-factly as if everyone should already know the answers.
Summer for Hannah, however, is shot, Katrina said. Doctors have told Hannah that because of the concussion she shouldn’t read, swim or play video games. Doctors’ orders also state “no homework,” which the soon-to-be seventh-grader jokingly said she hopes they will hold her to once school starts at Cave City.
While Hannah has a strong desire to tell the woman who held her that’s she sorry and to give her a big hug, “at the same time, I want to thank her and everyone for helping my kids,” Katrina said.
It’s help and kindness she doesn’t believe they would have been shown in Oregon where they moved from two years ago on the Fourth of July.
“It really was a work of God,” she said. “Everyone seemed to be at the right place at the right time” like “a team of angels.”
“I think we had every angel in heaven with us,” Hannah said.