The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

A second chance

Image Courtesy of Yvonne Santy.

I looked like part of a machine. The tubes lodged into my throat connected my lungs to a respirator were the only thing keeping me alive. I was nearly a human sandbag. The support of the neck brace was a pitiful sight. My body’s right half puffed out like a blowfish. My bleeding head, with its thick dark hair in a bun at the top, kissed the pillow with blood from the laceration in my head. My younger sister clutched my hand as she looked at my closed eyes. She told me later that she prayed I would survive.

Yvonne Santy sits comfortably on campus after sharing her story. Kate Paloy | [email protected]

My uncle gave me a copy of this photo he took after I survived a near-fatal car accident when I was 18; he knew I’d appreciate what he saw. Looking at this picture now, I’m grateful I survived that nightmare. I only hope teen drivers might learn something from my story.

On March 28, 2007, I was riding with my best friend the day she drove her new car out of the dealership’s parking lot. To celebrate her new purchase, we treated ourselves to pedicures, went out for dinner and later went shopping. We drove that car across town.

But the celebration ended on the way home. Along my friend sped, flirting with danger, when the vehicle flew on the slippery roads of spring’s first rain. She hit the brakes for a curve in the road, causing the car to spin out. It hit a small tree at the front passenger fender.

I was hospitalized for eight days after the accident. I don’t recall two months of my life because of the brain injury I acquired that night, and I now live with the scars of irresponsible driving.

At times, my memory loss brings me to tears. The aftermath is hard to explain. I don’t remember much about anything before trying to find the car in the Wal-Mart parking lot. My memory of the hospital basically consists of a voice interrupting my sleep: “Help me, help me! Somebody help me!” my hospital roommate screamed.

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I regained my cognitive abilities by watching news and telling my aunt and uncle what I had learned, as the neurologist recommended. Eventually, I went back to work, but serving in a restaurant was hard to do without the same multitasking abilities. Eventually, I was laid off, and I ended the friendship with my classmate. She probably contacted me only three times after the accident. We had been best friends, but I didn’t appreciate how she changed my life and basically disappeared.

Friends, family and coworkers asked if I was going to sue my classmate or her insurance company. I decided not to because money would not change the fact that I almost died. If anything, I knew I was lucky I still had limbs and was beating the odds. I wasn’t supposed to make it, and the fact that I still have a voice is a miracle.

My best friend was not drunk, and the weather conditions were not impossible to drive in. She was speeding. She was 18 years old. Was this a surprise? Sadly, the statistics reveal it was bound to happen.

According to the Sacramento Police Department, teen drivers are 66 percent of the time at fault for all fatal accidents they are involved in, though they only represent 4 percent of the state’s licensed drivers. I could have died and become another statistic, since the leading cause of death for Americans 15-20 years old, according to SPD, is motor vehicle collisions.

The Sacramento Police Department offers free drivers’ safety classes to teens and their parents or guardians, and I applaud this training program.

Since in this economy free safety training is hard to come by, SPD could enhance its training by having survivors like me speak to teens about road safety. If I had to opportunity to speak, I’d be happier than winning a lawsuit in court.

Outreach is something anybody can do, and not only would I be providing a testimony for hope’s sake, but SPD would also be connecting community members together for the greater good of others on the road.

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