Woman reflects on car accident that changed her life

‘You think a quadriplegic can’t have pain, but yes we can’

Family remembers distracted driving accident 7 years later

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Carolyn Denmark remembers the day that changed her life seven years ago vividly.

“It was on a Monday morning in February. It was a cool and clear day,” Denmark said. “It was on February 27, 2012, to be exact.”

On Feb. 27, 2012, two days after Denmark’s 57th wedding anniversary, she, her husband and their daughter, Kaye Kelley, were in Kelley’s car. Kelley was driving them to lunch.

“We were going to meet my sister and her husband for lunch,” Kelley said. “I had pulled out of the parking lot of the service station and in just a matter of minutes, we were hit.”

Kelley’s car was struck by a distracted driver.

The 2012 accident left Carolyn Denmark paralyzed. She has regained some feeling in her left side.
The 2012 accident left Carolyn Denmark paralyzed. She has regained some feeling in her left side. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

“It was a young lady who had run a stop sign," Kelley said. “It was a four-lane road, and it (the car) pushed us to the other side of the road, and thank the Lord there were no cars coming, or all three of us would’ve been killed."

The accident caused Kelley’s collar bone to break.

“I hit the steering wheel and I broke my collar bone," Kelley said. "I thought I was having a heart attack, but what happened was I had broken my collar bone and my lung collapsed.”

The accident left Denmark paralyzed.

“I remember I reached over to pick up my purse and I found out that I couldn’t move," Denmark said.

Denmark and her husband were airlifted to a hospital in Huntsville, Alabama. However, Denmark’s husband died three weeks later, two days after his 75th birthday.

“I was told by the doctors that I was a quadriplegic, or an incomplete. That means that I could get back some feeling," Denmark said.

Seven years after the accident, Denmark has regained some feeling in her left side.

Carolyn Denmark’s husband died three weeks after the accident, two days after his 75th birthday.
Carolyn Denmark’s husband died three weeks after the accident, two days after his 75th birthday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

“I’ve regained a little movement in my arms in my left side, but not much in the right side," Denmark said. “I am confined to the chair. I cannot walk. The worst thing for me in this condition is I cannot use my hands whatsoever. You think a quadriplegic can’t have pain, but yes we can.”

“She can’t do anything. We have to brush her teeth, we have to give her her morning medicine, we have to dress her. I mean she cant do anything for herself," Kelley said. "She has a sharp mind but she cannot do anything for herself.”

Looking back on the accident that changed her family’s life forever, Kelley said that if the person who hit them hadn’t have been driving distracted, her father would still be here and her mother would still be able to walk.

“I would tell anybody, keep your eyes on the road,” Kelley said. "I mean just taking your eyes off the road for anything will turn your family upside down, and it did ours.”

SafeWise released a report showing that Alabama is one of the worst states in the nation for distracted driving. in 2018, Alabama was ranked as the second deadliest state in the country for driving.

According to Drive Safe Alabama, a traffic crash was reported every 200 seconds in 2017, and also in 2017, a person was injured in a traffic crash every 11 minutes.

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