A call at 4 a.m. on April 17, 2020 made Buffy Trowse scream. She desperately woke her family for a 40-minute drive to Bellingham and waited eight hours in a hospital parking lot, unsure whether her daughter would be alive.
This date is a memorable day for Buffy and her family. It was the day her daughter and former WSU student Yashleen Singh survived a traumatic car accident. Buffy said her life changed after that accident.
The 20-year-old Yashleen visited the WSU before her car accident last April. (Courtesy Allecia Galindo)
Buffy said she remembered the fire department telling her about Yashleen’s condition. The voice on the other end of the line told her Yashleen was in critical condition.
“I just screamed, confused and very scared,” she said.
Allecia Galindo, Yashleen’s sister, thought there was a fire in the house when she heard her mother scream. She said it was hard for her to believe that her sister was in a car accident.
“I just remember feeling like I was having a heart attack, like my chest was just heavy,” she said.
Upon arrival at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, hospital staff notified Buffy and her family that Yashleen was undergoing an operation. Buffy said the staff called Yashleen “Tamales Tamales” because she had no ID with her at the time of the accident.
Buffy – along with her husband Daryn Trowse and Allecia – was unable to enter the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions. She said Yashleen’s surgery took about eight hours.
“We just cried and prayed a lot because we didn’t know the exact injuries at the time,” she said.
After the surgery, the doctor told Buffy and her family that Yashleen had a severed main artery in her head. Buffy said Yashleen also lost two skull fractures and about nine liters of blood.
“He also told us that he ran several red lights to get to the hospital on time because she had less than an hour to survive,” Buffy said.
Allecia said Buffy was the only one who got to see Yashleen for a few minutes after the operation. Three days after the operation, Allecia and other family members were allowed to visit Yashleen because doctors thought she was going to die.
Liz Wilson, Yashleen’s best friend, visited Yashleen, Colorado, where she received three therapies a day for four days. (Courtesy Liz Wilson)
Allecia walked into her sister’s room and saw Yashleen’s head wrapped around her. Tubes came out of her mouth and another tube came out of her head. Her body was swollen. Allecia said she could barely see the figure in this room.
“I went in and said ‘Yashy, it’s sissy’ … and her body kind of twitched,” she said. “I will never forget that.”
Yashleen, 20, survived the car accident. But after five months in hospital, she’s now living a completely different life.
Buffy said Yashleen had to “start over” and learn almost everything from walking and talking to swallowing and using the toilet.
Yashleen had eye surgery at the University of Washington. Liz Wilson, Yashleen’s best friend since middle school, spent one night in Yashleen’s room feeling scared. She said she cried a lot because her best friend was in pain.
“She recognized me,” said Liz. “I said,” Who’s your best friend? She pointed to me. “
Last June, Yashleen was rushed to Craig Hospital in Colorado, where she did three therapies a day for four days, Buffy said.
Buffy works as a full-time caregiver for her daughter. She said she helped Yashleen with physical, occupational, and speech therapy treatments twice a week.
“We had to be really strong for each other,” Buffy said. “Our ultimate goal was to give her a life.”
Some days are more difficult than others. Yashleen’s accident took a great emotional toll on Buffy and her family. Buffy said she sometimes had nightmares about the tragedy that happened last year.
Allecia helped her mother take care of her sister. When Yashleen was in Colorado, Allecia said she would fly once a week to see her sister. She also had to balance her job and her schoolwork.
It has been about eleven months since the accident. Although Yashleen knows she will never be the same person she was before the accident, she’s determined to work hard every day to get better, Buffy said.
“Even though she’s been injured and isn’t like she used to be, she is proud of herself every day,” she said. “She doesn’t complain about a lick. She smiles, she laughs. Your personality is amazing. “
Liz said Yashleen’s humor and positive attitude were always qualities she admired about her. Yashleen could walk into a room and win over people because of her personality, Liz said.
Yashleen’s journey to recovery brought her Lynden community together, Buffy said. A friend of Buffy organized a food train that included a fundraising page that raised over $ 10,000 for Yashleen. Another person started a #YashyStrong t-shirt and raised over $ 4,000.
Before college, Yashleen worked with a Papa Murphy in Lynden. The restaurant staff hosted a three day pizza event for #YashyStrong. The event raised more than $ 6,000, Buffy said.
Yashleen’s sisterhood at WSU also sent her a t-shirt and goodies, she said.
Yashleen is attending an online college achievement class through Whatcom Community College. (Courtesy Buffy Trowse)
On March 20th, Yashleen’s high school volleyball team will have a game for them. She said attendees will be wearing #YashyStrong t-shirts.
“People love her so much,” she said. “She inspires people.”
Over the past year Buffy has learned to never take life for granted. A person’s life can change in the blink of an eye. Buffy said it was important to love one another, especially family, and express appreciation for those around us.
Nowadays, Yashleen is studying an online course through Whatcom Community College. Buffy said Yashleen had been in a college success class since early January.
“She shouldn’t be alive,” said Allecia, “so I just think that to be honest, she’s a miracle.”
Individuals can follow Yashleen’s path to recovery on the #YashyStrong Facebook page.