Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The roller coaster ride to recovery

Allie Byrd refuses to give up

“Being away from my family is  the hardest part... but I need  to gather my strength.”
“Being away from my family is the hardest part… but I need to gather my strength.”

By Lindsey Rae Vaughn, The Vienna (IL) Times

Allie Byrd was settling into life after high school, working her  job as a CNA.

A simple act of purchasing donuts from a Casey’s gas station in Vienna, Illinois, charted a course for a difficult life.

On Jan. 3, 2015, Allie Byrd was hit head-on by a drunk driver.

Allie, who graduated from Vienna High School in 2014, has always wanted to take care of people.

She has dreams to become a obstetrician/gynecologist.

“The tables have turned and it makes me want to pursue it more,” Allie said.

The scene of the January 3, 2015, deadly crash in Vienna that killed a Tennessee man and has left 18-year old Allie Byrd hospitalized ever since.
The scene of the January 3, 2015, deadly crash in Vienna that killed a Tennessee man and has left 18-year old Allie Byrd hospitalized ever since.

The 18 year old was one mile from her house when she was struck head on by another vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle, Nathan Bunton, had a blood alcohol level of 0.302 percent, which is three times over the legal limit of .08 percent.

Bunton, 28, was also reportedly speeding around 100 mph.

Bunton, who was from Nashville, Tennessee, swerved out of his lane and into Allie’s, according to the police report. Bunton did not survive the crash.

Allie, miraculously, survived the crash, but at a cost.

“I remember screaming ‘Mom, Mom,’” Allie said.

“I want to remember more and I can’t remember.”

Meanwhile, while Allie was trapped in her vehicle, her family began to worry at home, only a mile away.

“She’s always been good about getting home on time,” said Tiffanie Baker, Allie’s mom.

Allie got off work at 6 a.m. that morning. At 6:20 a.m., Tiffanie began to pace. She called the nursing home where she worked and they said she had already left. Allie also wasn’t answering her phone.

At 6:30 a.m., Kevin, Tiffanie’s husband and Allie’s step-dad, went looking for her. He found her one mile down the road.

“I threw clothes in a bag and we went to Marion,” Tiffanie said.

After Allie initially went to a Marion hospital, she was transferred to St. Louis.

“I didn’t leave until February,” Tiffanie said.

Allie had a broken pelvis, femur, internal bleeding, crushed feet and other broken bones. She also had to be put on dialysis and wasn’t able to speak for a couple weeks.

Weeks passed and Allie had many ups and downs. While she was recovering at a slow, but steady pace, another tragedy hit the family hard.

On Feb. 28, 2015, Kevin passed away unexpectedly.

He was in the same hospital as Allie. She was on the 6th floor. He was on the 7th floor.

“I loved him. We were pretty close,” Allie said.

Two days after Kevin was buried, the family suffered yet another blow.

Both of Allie’s legs had to be amputated.

At the end of April, Allie was transported to a Herrin rehabilitation facility, where she continued her recovery.

One person that Allie and Tiffanie worry about is Dalton, Allie’s younger brother.

“He says he’s fine. He just wants me to come home,” Allie said.

Tiffanie struggled with caring for Allie and making sure Dalton was ok and doing well in school.

“I was trying to keep him in school. He stayed with family friends. I felt like I left him,” Tiffanie tearfully said.

She continued saying he “thinks he has to be the man,” especially after her husband died.

Dalton, almost 14, just graduated from 8th grade.

Recently, Allie moved to a rehabilitation facility in Chicago, by her choice.

“I chose to go because I was having mini strokes and it’s one of the best in the country,” Allie said about the facility.

“Being away from my family is the hardest part…but I need to gather my strength.”

Preparing for Allie’s return home Volunteers from across Southern Illinois are coming together to prepare for 18-year old Allie Byrd’s return home after more than six months in hospitals. With the help of a Johnson County real estate agent and her broker, Allie’s mother, Tiffanie Baker (center in the above photo), and her 13-year old brother, Dalton (to her right), recently moved into a home at 804 Hess Street in Vienna, that, once renovated, should accommodate most of Allie’s needs. Through the efforts of Eagle House Ministries at Buncombe, a group of people from the Nashville and Sparta, Ill., area were in Vienna early Monday morning to begin the process of converting a garage into Allie’s bedroom, complete with a handicapped accessible bathroom and closet. The project is being overseen by Shawn Stafford Construction. A fund has been established at Legence Bank in Vienna for the renovation project. Checks must be made payable to Eagle House Ministries, memo: Allie Byrd. Anyone wishing to contribute to this fund, or for more information on the project, contact Eagle House Ministries at 658-0099.
Preparing for Allie’s return home
Volunteers from across Southern Illinois are coming together to prepare for 18-year old Allie Byrd’s return home after more than six months in hospitals.
With the help of a Johnson County real estate agent and her broker, Allie’s mother, Tiffanie Baker (center in the above photo), and her 13-year old brother, Dalton (to her right), recently moved into a home at 804 Hess Street in Vienna, that, once renovated, should accommodate most of Allie’s needs.
Through the efforts of Eagle House Ministries at Buncombe, a group of people from the Nashville and Sparta, Ill., area were in Vienna early Monday morning to begin the process of converting a garage into Allie’s bedroom, complete with a handicapped accessible bathroom and closet. The project is being overseen by Shawn Stafford Construction.
A fund has been established at Legence Bank in Vienna for the renovation project. Checks must be made payable to Eagle House Ministries, memo: Allie Byrd. Anyone wishing to contribute to this fund, or for more information on the project, contact Eagle House Ministries at 658-0099.

Allie’s release date from the rehabilitation center in Chicago is set for July. If all goes according to plan, she will finally be home, with her mom and brother, in a new house.

Tiffanie bought a new house and is currently remodeling the garage to be a wheelchair accessible room for Allie.

Tiffanie has had to rely heavily on the community and her family because of her disability.

Tiffanie lost one of her eyes to glaucoma and has vision problems in her remaining eye.

“No words could describe how much I appreciate this community,” Tiffanie said.

“There are so many people to thank.”

The rehabilitation facility in Chicago is set to provide Allie with her new prosthetic legs, though when they will be completed is still undetermined.

As for her feelings towards the driver, Allie is trying to heal.

“I’m pretty upset. He shouldn’t have been driving. I’m still working on being able to forgive him,” she said.

Allie said there have been a lot of friends visit her and check up on her, which she is thankful for.

Her aunt runs a Prayers for Allie Byrd facebook page, where she gives updates on Allie’s health and many fundraisers have been organized.

The fundraisers have helped tremendously with medical bills, according to Allie.

“Thank you for all the support and donations. It’s been a blessing,” Allie says to her community.

Though this year has been a roller coaster of emotions, Tiffanie is very thankful for her children and her community.

“She’s a very strong girl and I admire her and her brother.” Tiffanie said.

“We have to thank God every day. We still have a long road, but I know she can do this.”

For those who wish to donate to Allie Byrd, an account is set up at SouthernTrust in Vienna.

There is also a GoFundMe account set up at www.gofundme.com/jze5t0 that is accepting donations.

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One comment

  1. Great story!!! Allie is a fighter!