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Seat belts save lives

January 4, 2012

It was the phone call every parent fears; “Hello, this is so-and-so with the Sheriff’s Office. Do you have a daughter, Jordan? There has been a horrific accident. She is alive, but. . .”
Jordan Marsh’s parents, Jim and Stacy Marsh of Ansley, received that phone call Sunday night, Nov. 13, at about 9 p.m.
“Stacy got up and answered the phone, and I could tell immediately something bad had happened,” recalls Jim of that night.
Jim and Stacy gathered up the other children, picked up Jordan’s boyfriend, and hit the road to get to Jordan’s side. They had been given no details, other than she was alive, so they had no idea what to expect when they got there.
Jordan had been on her way back to Norfolk, where she attends Northeast Community College, after spending the weekend at home with her family. This is her first year of college, and she was still in the process of adjusting to life away from home.
She was about one mile east of Spalding, when suddenly an oncoming vehicle crossed the center line and hit her nearly head on. The impact sent Jordan’s car into a guard rail, opening the path for the oncoming vehicle to also hit the car behind Jordan.
When the emergency response personnel arrived to the scene of twisted metal, the driver of the car that hit Jordan was dead, and Jordan and the driver of the other vehicle were critically injured. Both were transported by ambulance to the Boone County Hospital in Albion, and later life-flighted to UNMC in Omaha.
The accident had left Jordan with two fractured vertebrae in her neck, a broken arm and broken leg. The jaws of life had to be used to remove her from her mangled car, a 2008 Pontiac G5 which she had only three weeks.
As her family raced toward Albion, they were called by the Sheriff’s Office and told that Jordan had been airlifted to Omaha. Luckily, Jim says, they were only about to Greeley when they got that call, so they were able to turn around and head back to St. Paul in route to Omaha.
Near St. Paul, Jim was pulled over for speeding. He explained to the officer what had happened.
“I told him my daughter had just been in a horrible accident by Spalding. He went back to his car, and when he came back he just told me to watch for deer,” Jim recalls.
Jim has an aunt and uncle who live in Omaha, and he had called them to go to the hospital and stay with Jordan until he got there, so she wasn’t alone. The family arrived at the Omaha hospital around 1 a.m.
A few hours later, Jordan was taken in to surgery. The C5 and C6 vertebrae in her neck had been fractured and dislocated, so the disc was removed and a metal plate and six screws were put in.
Meanwhile, her leg was put in traction until Wednesday, when surgery was then done on her leg and arm. The humerus in her left arm was broken, as was the femur in her left leg. A rod was put in her leg.
Jordan has no memory at all of the accident. In fact, she remembers nothing from that Sunday until Friday, five days later. However, an unexpected visitor shed some light on just how lucky Jordan was.
“This state patrolman says he always tries to save something from the accident scene to give to the victim or their family. He had been given the piece of seat belt that the EMTs cut off of Jordan, and brought that to her,” Jim explains.
“He told me that seat belt saved my life,” a tearful Jordan added.
Jim adds, “She had no facial lacerations or internal injuries, and from the looks of her car that is a miracle. We are all convinced it is because she was wearing her seat belt.”
She spent a week at UNMC Hospital and was transferred to Madonna in Lincoln for rehabilitation. Finally, on Dec. 6, a little more than three weeks after the accident, Jordan was allowed to put full weight on her leg and walk. Three days later, Dec. 9, she was released from Madonna.
Jordan goes to physical therapy three times a week for her leg and neck, and therefore had to take this semester off of school. She does plan to return to Northeast in August. She has suffered nerve damage in her left wrist, and will have to wait about three months to begin PT on her arm.
The accident has had a profound effect on Jordan, including changing the direction she thought she had set for herself.
“I was planning to be a radiology tech, but after this experience I have decided I want to be an occupational therapist, or at least some type of therapist,” Jordan says. “I think it would be so rewarding to be able to help people the way the therapists have helped me.”
She is also on a campaign strongly advocating the use of seat belts - all the time.
“I used to wear it just when I went out on the highway,” says Jordan. “but now even if I’m just going around the corner, I buckle up!”
“So do I,” says her proud dad.
Jordan says her doctors and therapists are expecting her to make a full recovery, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t stop and think about how close she came and how lucky she is.
“Obviously, He has something better planned for her,” Jim smiles, as he looks toward the sky.