One girl hopes sharing her story on one life-altering mistake will prevent others from making the same mistake.
It was 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2010, when 22-year-old Bethany Benson made a grave mistake while driving back home from her aunt’s house that alerted her life forever. With her boyfriend behind the wheel, Bethany decided to stretch out as much as her mother’s 2002 Sunfire allowed.
She pushed her seat back and popped her feet up on the dashboard. Soon after, she fell asleep.
For Bethany, what happened next during the car ride is a memory she does not have. Medical experts assume a combination of her sleeping and the trauma she endured caused her brain to block this memory. Through the accounts of other individuals at the scene, Bethany does know what happened.
Ahead of her and her boyfriend, a small vehicle collided with a motorcycle. The motorcyclist died and the accident proceeded to cause a chain effect. First, a transport truck slammed on the brakes to avoid the collision site. Bethany’s boyfriend attempted to slam on his brakes to avoid the truck but was unsuccessful.
Looking back at the photos of the 2002 Sunfire, most find it surprising either Bethany or her boyfriend survived the accident.
For her boyfriend, doctors gave him 100 stitches. For Bethany, that one decision to put her feet on the dashboard before nodding off would change her life forever.
Airbags deploy and inflate at a speed of nearly 200 mph, which is a little faster than most cars travel during a Formula One race. The deployed airbag struck Bethany’s hamstrings, forcing her knees into her face.
The collision left her with a broken left eye socket, a broken cheekbone, a broken nose, a dislocated jaw, a tooth slicing through her lips, and the need to remove her spleen.
As for her feet, the crash left them broken and compressed. In time, Bethany’s feet ended up close to two sizes smaller than they were before the accident. The crash left her left pupil dilated, permanently impacting her vision. Her hearing was also damaged. Arguably the most serious injury of all was an injury doctors told her mother not to worry about at the time of the accident – her brain bleed.
Before the accident, Bethany pursued a teaching career.
A day after waking from the crash, Bethany was no longer bilingual in English and French. She lost her ability to speak French completely and lost a great deal of her ability to speak English, as well.
According to Driving News, four years afterward, an individual sitting across from Bethany would have a hard time telling she had ever been in such a horrible accident. With various equipment at her aide, she was able to become a casual athlete in a number of different sports.
“Any shoes I wear have to have these special orthotics in them. They cost $450, and the shoes they fit cost $180. I had to get rid of my high heels, I know it sounds dumb…”
Four years later, Bethany has lost her ability to do many things most people take for granted. She lost many of her friends and she even lost her boyfriend. While Bethany holds ill will toward her ex-boyfriend, her mother, Mary Lachapelle, claims to have no hard feelings.
Thanks to the brain bleed doctors did not believe was a cause for concern, Bethany changed after the accident.
It changed what she could and could not do and it left her with super-sensitive hearing.
“I got back a different daughter. I lost a sweet 22-year-old who worked full time and put herself through university. She was on a great path. I got a 13-year-old with anger issues.”
A few months after the crash, Bethany texted several people in the middle of the night with angry and inappropriate messages she later did not remember sending. Through fits of anger and depression, she was not the Bethany people remembered.
Legally, Bethany is an adult. Mentally, however, Bethany’s mother believes her daughter reverted to a teenager.
“My daughter is 26. I’m not legally able to know what meds she might be taking, or when. And yet, she is basically a 13-year-old, with all the immaturity and impulsiveness you would associate with that. She’s naive.”
In all the exchanges with media outlets over the years, there is one thing Bethany is adamant about – she lost everything she had and was because she put her feet on the dashboard. Bethany hopes to be an advocate of the issue so no one else suffers the way she did.
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Source: The Doctors, Driving News