MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery Catholic school teacher went from training for a marathon to fighting for her life after an accident near her home. Now, the community is rallying around the mother of three in the midst of her struggle.
Lori Riggles, 48, is in the Intensive Care Unit at Baptist Medical Center South. She's on a ventilator, sedated and awaiting surgeries, but she is expected to recover.
She faces a long road to get there, but many in the community are stepping up to help the longtime educator.
Riggles' life changed in the blink of an eye during her routine workout.
"She was struck by a pickup truck head on," said her sister, Melissa Macchia.
Riggles is a lifelong runner. In the past two years, she started to run competitively, taking part in half marathons and 5K's. She was thrilled to be accepted into the New York City marathon, which is in the fall. That's what she was currently training for and it would have been her first full marathon.
She was only 350-400 yards from her house on Smiley Ferry Road in Ramer on Sunday when she was hit by a Ford F250. According to state troopers, it happened just before 3 p.m. near Hickory Grove Road.
Riggles' husband was out working in their yard and heard the sirens and spotted the medical helicopter and was soon approached by members of law enforcement who told him what happened as his wife was airlifted to the hospital in Montgomery.
Lori Riggles suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis, vertebrae and wrist and extensive damage to her arm. She has a massive head wound that stretches from her hairline to the back of her head, but she does not have a skull fracture or signs of swelling on her brain.
"She's in ICU in a critical state, but we have seen some signs of hopefulness in all of this," her sister revealed. "At this point, her best case scenario will involve very long-term therapy, but we know she's up to the task because she's always been a fighter."
Family members hope she will one day be able to run again.
Riggles is a sixth grade teacher at Holy Spirit who has taught for 25 years in the Montgomery Catholic school system.
A Go Fund Me account set up by her son, Trey, Monday afternoon has already raised nearly $7,000 as students and friends help with her medical expenses, rehabilitation and loss of income.
"For me, it was really important to be productive and that's why I set up the campaign," Trey Riggles said. "I think that's what she really needs in the long term. I think that she's definitely going to get through this and when she finally does, I set that campaign up to help her get back on her feet at that point."
"She has touched so many lives during that time and we have seen the direct result of that by the outpouring of love, prayers, people coming and helping. It's been a wonderful support and it's been a comfort in this time," Macchia added.
Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School posted the following statement on their website in the wake of the accident:
Mrs. Lori Riggles, our Holy Spirit campus sixth grade teacher, was struck by a car Sunday, April 17 while running near her home. She has multiple injuries and her condition is critical. Please pray for Mrs. Riggles' recovery and for her family as they begin her healing journey.
Many people have asked what they can do for Mrs. Riggles.
Montgomery Catholic feels that monetary donations would be most appreciated by the family at this time. The school will be accepting donations at all of our campuses. Please make checks payable to Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School and indicate on the Memo line: For Lori Riggles.
Troopers are investigating the accident. No other details have been released. Riggles' family says the driver of the truck involved stopped and called 911 for help.
Meanwhile, her relatives have not left her hospital bedside. They thanked those who've offered kind words and visited the hospital. Some friends have brought meals and even a cake for Riggles' daughter who celebrated her birthday on Monday.
"It's been so incredible. So many people have been coming to the hospital and so many people online. I've been getting messages from people I haven't spoken to in so long and people I never really spoke to that much, just offering their support and they all care so much. We've also been getting so many prayers. The Catholic community has just been such a huge help," Trey Riggles said. "I think when she wakes up and I talk to her about that, it's going to be a really precious moment."