Family and Friends-
I just wanted to let you know that Phil and I were in a serious car accident with Phil’s parents and our dog Black this past Sunday evening, 28 November, on Interstate 95 going north past Miami. I have been too overwhelmed with tasks everyday to call or write anyone this week. We all got out alive and we are very grateful for that but we all have injuries. Phil’s parents had flown from Ireland to visit with us in Fort Lauderdale for Thanksgiving and we had taken them down to Key West last weekend. Around 9:30pm on the drive north back to Fort Lauderdale, a driver in front of us in the express lanes of I-95 lost control of his car and starting flipping/rolling over—we did not see the initial rolling as it was dark and the other car’s lights were out. I think that we hit this car from behind after it had flipped onto its right side. This impact at highway speeds sent us then into the concrete barrier wall that divides the north and south lanes of the expressway, which was the worst part. After we got out of the right side of our car, which was now perpendicular to the left lane of the expressway, our car was then struck 2 more times by 2 other cars. We were all able to move quickly enough (with the help of 2 guys that had stopped) to avoid being struck by the sliding of our car towards us by the subsequent impacts--the guys actually partially carried Phil. 2 additional cars then crashed behind the cars that struck us. In all of the 6 cars involved, everyone, thankfully, has survived and the police informed us at the ER that we were the most injured as we were the only car sent into the concrete wall. The ambulance arrived within about 10 minutes of the accident.
Phil and his mother Lily Harty were taken by ambulance to North Shore hospital in Miami and his father Richard Harty was taken by ambulance to Jackson North in Miami. I declined treatment as I was able to move around some and I needed to get Black to an Animal Hospital—he was not allowed in any of the ambulances and was able to walk but was traumatized and seemed to be injured.
It has been an painful and frustrating week to include some extreme negligence on the part of the hospitals that Phil, Richard, and Lily were initially sent to on the night of the accident, but we are now hopefully on the mend with a good orthopedist and the trauma doctors up here in Broward County (Fort Lauderdale). Phil was in the driver's seat and has the most complicated injury in that he fractured his left patella (kneecap) as well as his left wrist. His kneecap was completely broken in half with the top cracked piece (about 20% of the kneecap) completely pulled away from the bottom portion by the attached ligaments. Initially, the doctor thought that this 20% piece of the knee cap might not be salvagable but he was able to keep it in after he started operating and even was able to put screws in it. He went into surgery for his knee this past Thursday at Memorial Pembroke and was discharged yesterday (Friday) with a straight full leg cast. We have had some challenges managing his pain the first 17 hours at home so we were back at the ER today. We confirmed that the cast is still fitting properly and received more medications. He is now on bed-rest at home again and we are hoping that he will find some relief in the next 48 hours from the pain. His left wrist was put in a cast but they decided not to operate on it--that cast is relatively comfortable. He will be in the full leg cast for at least 4-6 weeks and will then continue with rehab.
Phil’s Dad, Richard, was sitting in the 2nd row seats behind Phil. He has 2 fractures in his sternum (breastbone) as well as 2 fractured ribs. He also has some compression fractures in his spine and a pneumothorax and pneumomediastinum (escaped air in chest areas outside the lungs). He was formally admitted to Memorial Regional for these injuries on Tuesday evening and was discharged today, Saturday. He is mobile and will wear a brace for his recovery and take painkillers.
Phil’s Mom, Lily, was sitting behind me in the 2nd row seats and has a fractured sternum (breastbone) and other bruising but never had to be admitted overnight, although she has been in the ER twice. She is being treated with painkillers and breathing exercises.
I was sitting in the front passenger seat next to Phil and although I was not seen by a doctor the night of the accident, I went to the ER the following night as the pain and swelling in my left knee significantly increased as time passed. My main injuries are all-over bruising and a very large left knee hematoma that has made it difficult to walk or bend the knee, but an MRI has not picked up any bone or serious ligament damage to the knee. I am awaiting the result of the CT scan of my sternum (breastbone area) that I did this past Friday night and am hoping that I have avoided a fracture there, although it is very sore.
Black was asleep in the 3rd row which was fortunate as he was thrown into the back of the 2nd row seats, but was not thrown outside of his 3rd row area of the car. After leaving the accident scene, I was able to get him admitted and evaluated for several nights at an Animal Hospital in Miami. He had general bruising and sensitivity but, amazingly, does not have any fractures and is taking medication for inflammation.
I have been receiving everyone’s RSVPs for Dad’s burial and reception at Arlington National Cemetery next week and will be able to respond to those I received this week tomorrow. Everything at Arlington will continue as planned on December 9, except that Phil will not be able to attend due to his injuries. I thought a lot about Dad the night of the accident as I was trying to get help for everyone and felt so frightened and alone as Black and I watched everyone leaving by ambulance and then had to leave the accident scene in a cab. I am so grateful that Dad encouraged me to buy the SUV we were driving—it was an Acura MDX and Dad and I researched it extensively together this past March even though he was not feeling well . I remember him being so pleased when we found an MDX that we liked. We actually talked about it for quite a few days on the phone—Dad always wanted us to be in the safest car possible and he really enjoyed helping us figure out a good one. We do believe that it saved our lives as we survived the hits to both the overturned car and the concrete wall at high speed. Richard and Lily’s fractures are due to the seatbelts holding them in place and although the car’s front is obviously completely destroyed/crumpled, it did not allow any significant penetration of the cabin.
Mom and my brother Lew flew down on Tuesday and have been a great support. We are also very grateful to Phil’s colleagues at work for providing a driver and a car to get us to the various hospitals and doctors’ appointments this week as well as for checking in with us so frequently. We would also like to thank our neighbors in Nu River Landing for their support and concern and for helping us with getting Black back up to Fort Lauderdale from Miami. I also know that Richard and Lily are very grateful to those in Ireland who have been ‘keeping the show on the road’ with regards to their farm and vet practice as they were meant to have returned to Ireland last Wednesday. They are hoping to return to Ireland this week.
Please pray for us and especially for Phil as he starts his process of recovery. I will keep you updated.
Melinda, Phil, and the Hartys