Collision leaves senior shaken, wary of driving after being hit by drunk driver

Kelly Cordingley, Editor in Chief

Sitting at the intersection of 151st Street and Nall Avenue.

Waiting for the light to turn green.

Wham.

A drunk driver slams into her car from behind. Her head smacks the steering wheel, and her knees crash against the dashboard.

A drunk driver hit senior Breanna Dowling on March 31.

“He hit me once from behind, but he was so drunk that when he tried to get away he hit the side of my car again,” Breanna said.

The drunk driver that hit her had struck her car so hard his steering clamp broke and he ended up in a ditch less than a mile from the collision.

Breanna’s parents have contacted an attorney about the case. Unlike Breanna, the other driver was unharmed.

“That upset me even more,” she said. “That nothing was wrong with him.”

She was knocked unconscious for a few seconds after hitting her head on the steering wheel, experienced whiplash, dislocated several vertebrae in her lower back, nearly fractured her kneecaps and still has trouble remembering specifics of the accident.

“I called my parents after the accident, and a guy in the other lane called 911 for me,” she said.

As she was on the phone with her dad before the ambulance arrived, an off-duty firefighter who happened to be nearby checked her neck. Her parents met the ambulance at the hospital.

“It was a very intense call,” Breanna’s father Terry Dowling said.

Breanna’s friend, junior Zack Jenkins, heard about the accident and immediately drove to the scene.

“Seeing her put on the gurney was just so overwhelming,” Jenkins said.

The doctors examined Breanna at the hospital, paying special attention to her neck because of a possibility for brain trauma.

She stayed in the hospital until 1 a.m. for observation, and doctors confirmed there were no signs of brain trauma.

“Even if she hadn’t been OK, I would have had to rely on the Lord regardless,”  Terry said.

Jenkins went to the hospital, along with other friends and stayed in the waiting room until about 11 p.m.

Breanna said her accident brought back tragic memories of her uncle.

“My dad’s brother was a victim of a hit-and-run that killed him,” Breanna said. “My parents were so afraid they’d have to go through another loss.”

Breanna’s uncle was riding a motorcycle on a Los Angeles highway in 1991 when he was hit from behind. The driver fled the scene and was never identified.

When her uncle didn’t show up for work the next day, his boss called Terry. He didn’t know where his brother was, so he began calling hospitals, morgues and state troopers.

When he learned what happened to his brother, he had to make the call to his parents to tell them their 31-year-old son had been killed.

“One day [the hit-and-run driver] will face the Lord,” Terry said.  “I hope his life gets changed before he faces the Lord.”

While Terry says he can forgive the driver who killed his brother and hit his daughter, that doesn’t mean the drivers shouldn’t admit their errors.

“I used to drink too much and I did things that weren’t correct,” Terry said. “I could not have changed without Jesus in my life; I am not alone in this.”

Breanna came back to school March 5. Terry said his daughter has been out of sorts since the accident, and that he isn’t sure she’s completely wrapped her mind around everything that has happened.

“My body is just physically and emotionally worn out,” Breanna said.

She said her teachers and peers have been supportive, but she has also heard absurd rumors about her accident.

“There was one that I was in a coma, and that they were monitoring my brain,” she said.

Breanna’s totalled car was a 2006 model, and even though she got a new car with advanced safety features after the accident, she said she is still wary of driving.

““I’m sort of a wuss in the car now,” Breanna said.

She said she is more aware how quickly anything can happen.

“When you’re young you think nothing could happen to you, but it can,” she said. “I realize your life can change in an instant.”