DENVER (CBS4) – A young girl who was stuck by a vehicle and wound up on life support is now adjusting back into normal life.
On Feb. 27, 2013, Deyondrah Bridgeman, 17, was crossing East Colfax Avenue, heading to class at Denver East High School. Instead, she ended up in the hospital after being nearly killed on by a hit-and-run driver.
Nobody was certain she’d survive. Her mother, Eriana McLaughlin, made the decision to keep her daughter on life support when doctors gave her the tough choice.
“Just listening to the doctors made me very unsure,” McLaughlin recalled.
CBS4’s Suzanne McCarroll first met Deyondrah in May. Then, she had a blank stare and didn’t seem to recognize anyone. Her mother was heartbroken.
“She cannot walk or talk,” McLaughlin said, “She cannot eat yet.”
Fast forward another six months and Deyondrah is out of the hospital, back at home and back in class at East High.
When asked what her favorite class is, “Biology” is the answer.
And her physical improvement is easy to see as she quickly recovers skills like reading.
Her teachers say Deyondrah is motivated, hard-working and anxious to learn.
That motivation stretches out of the classroom and to intense daily, physical therapy. Deyondrah wants to walk on her own again. She has control of her arms and moves her legs.
She’s in a wheelchair but is starting to take steps with a walker, but she’d like to be mobile on her own.
When asked about what frustrates her now, “That I’m in a wheelchair,” is her reply as she squirmed to underscore the point.
For McLaughlin, those worries about her daughter’s survival are now replaced by optimism for the future.
“Seeing how far she’s come,” McLauglin said. “And it’s not even a year and how far she’s come. I believe she’ll be able to do everything she wanted to do.”
Occupational therapists are working with Deyondrah every day after school to increase her strength and her comfort in living at home.
Speech therapists help her communicate more clearly. But even with those physical limitations, her mother says she has her daughter back in the most important ways.
“She’s still that funny, nice, sweet kid,” said McLaughlin.
Deyondrah’s younger sister, Janice, was also grateful to have her sister home, saying it was lonely and weird being an only child.
Deyondrah speaks slowly but is easy to understand. She remembers nothing of the accident, nor the months in the hospital. But she does remember life before the morning of Feb. 27. Her goal is to return to that life.
Her mother savors their time at home.
“She goes to school all day, has therapies at night, but at the end of the night we’re still a family,” said McLaughlin.
Erin Jackson, 30, pleaded guilty to attempting to leave the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury. Jackson was sentenced to five years probation and was ordered to stay in Denver even though she had asked to be allowed to return to the East Coast where her family lives.
Even though Jackson was not sentenced to jail, Deyondrah’s family agreed to the deal because that charge is a felony and will remain on Jackson’s record.