TORRINGTON – On Saturday March 6th, Samantha Hill was taken to her parents’ home in Colorado for the weekend. Instead of seeing her family in Colorado, they would visit her in Nebraska after a life-changing accident.
The devastating collision that Saturday morning would cost Tyler Schaub, one of Samantha’s classmates, their lives when the vehicle driven by Schaub crossed the center line and collided head-on with their vehicle. Schaub was pronounced dead on the scene while Samantha was flown in a critical condition by helicopter to Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
“I just remember getting on a helicopter. After that, I can’t remember anything, ”said Samantha. “They had to use the ‘jaws of life’ to get me out of the car. It took about an hour. The EMT said I talked to him the whole time but I don’t know what I was talking to him about. “
Flight For Life transported Samantha Hill from the scene of the accident to the Regional West Medical Center, where she examined the extent of her injuries. She had 44 different traumas in different parts of her body.
“When she first came to Nebraska, she had 44 trauma,” said Samantha’s mother, Deanna Hill. “Starting with a broken kneecap, broken bones in her foot, two ribs, sternum, two spots in her pelvis, torn liver and spleen, her severe injury to her neck, sutures over her eye and lip, and her severe injury to her left arm. ”
Samantha spent the first week at the Regional West Medical Center on a ventilator. During this time, she was in halo braces from Saturday, March 6th through Wednesday, March 10th, to ensure that her neck was stabilized and that there was time for her spine to heal.
She had been beheaded inside and her head was held to her body only by the trunk of her brain. When she was first put in the halo, Samantha couldn’t move anything on the left side of her body.
Doctors sedated her again before her fusion surgery and readjusted the halo by a millimeter so that she could use her body to its fullest again.
“We had lost a nephew to the same injury,” said Deanna. “It’s called internal beheading. We knew what it was and we knew what we were up against. Her head was just balanced on her brain stem. “
Deanna said she was home when she got the call about the devastating accident. She immediately called her husband Judd, who was coming home from work, and got her eldest daughter, Sydney, who also lives in Colorado. The three jumped into the car and headed straight to the Regional West Medical Center.
On the way to the hospital, Deanna said the doctors and nurses called her on the way for information.
“The hospital and the doctors have been phenomenal,” said Deanna. “You kept calling us on the way. We were in constant touch with what was going on. “
Deanna said she stayed in Nebraska for the entire three weeks while Samantha was at the Regional West Medical Center. Her husband was able to stay for two weeks, but not longer because of his job.
Samantha spent the first two weeks at the Regional West Medical Center undergoing surgery and giving her body time to heal. During the last week in Regional West, doctors slowly made her stand up and move around.
“One of her knees is missing a PCL and a partial ACL,” said Deanna. “Her other knee had a broken kneecap. She could walk, but she looked like a robot because she wore two different braces. “
After three weeks at the Regional West Medical Center, Samantha was taken to Craig Hospital in Colorado for outpatient treatment. She works on an outpatient basis twice a week.
The days start early and end late in outpatient care. During Craig’s outpatient treatment, the doctors work a lot with Samantha’s neck to make sure her muscles are not tensing and she is healing properly. She also lets her do speech therapy to make sure her brain is still working properly. There is also occupational therapy with her left arm.
The hardest part for Samantha during her recovery was not being home since the accident and not being able to do things she used to do.
“It was difficult not to be home provided I am home [my parents], but this is not my home, “said Samantha Hill. “I’m not a person who likes to stay inside all the time and it was difficult not being able to use my left arm.”
The injury to her left arm was so dire that the doctors still don’t want her to push off with her arm, put pressure on the arm, or put any weight on the arm. Her humerus broke, her elbow was completely broken, and the ulna had four to six different breaks.
“It’s a pole, pinned, screwed, up to the left arm,” Deanna said. “So far Sam can go all the way out and touch her head, but there are other things she can’t do, like put a bottle in her mouth for a drink.” Physiotherapy has not yet started on her (left) arm. “
Deanna said doctors expect Samantha to return to her normal self by January.
She still needs surgery to repair the ligaments in her knee and has annual checkups with her neurosurgeon to make sure no hardware has moved.
Although the recovery process was difficult for Samantha, she still found time to continue her college classes at Eastern Wyoming College (EBR) and was able to graduate with her associates degree on Friday, May 14th.
She plans to finish the therapy and will have to drive alone again in early August. She is going to attend Chadron State College and wants to graduate with a degree in education to become a middle school teacher.
Samantha has had no problems getting back into a vehicle since the accident. She said she didn’t have any flashbacks on the accident and it just felt like she was driving in a vehicle again.
While the Hills moved from Torrington to Colorado in November, the community was still there for them during their time of need. It’s something that Deanna was overwhelmed by and didn’t know where to start with words and feelings of thanks.
“There aren’t even words,” said Deanna, fighting back the tears. “I tried to reach several groups. It’s an amazing thing and please let everyone know how grateful we are. There’s such a laundry list of people that you can’t name them all. “
Samantha still has a long way to go before she is fully recovered from the accident, but she wanted the community to know how grateful she is for all of her support.
“Thank you everyone for everything,” said Samantha. “I want you to know that I have been blessed for all of your support. I love torrington. “