Jami Wright was driving home to Genoa after finishing up a late shift Tuesday at Provena Mercy Medical Center in Aurora when she felt her eyes getting heavy.
Next thing she knew, she was startled awake by the realization that her car was no longer on the road.
Wright turned the wheel hard to try to veer back onto Derby Line Road, outside Genoa. But it was too much, too fast.
“I remember [the car] rolling,” Wright, a 23-year-old Genoa-Kingston High School grad, said. “I thought I was going to die.”
Wright’s 2009 Nissan Versa rolled over three times in a bean field off Derby Line before coming to rest wheels-down.
Inside the car, Wright was in shock. She’d already packed her bags for an upcoming trip to Brazil and stowed them in the trunk, but now they were all over the cabin. The Versa’s windshield was shattered; the field was dark. Luckily, her pink cellphone was easy to spot. She grabbed it and dialed 911. It was 11:53 p.m.
The dispatcher who answered, Deputy Laura Flink of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, asked Wright where she was, but Wright couldn’t tell.
Flink, a veteran dispatcher, helped Wright stay calm, walking her through everything that was going to happen.
“She just stayed on the phone with me until [the Genoa-Kingston Fire Department] got there,” Wright said.
Paramedics from Genoa-Kingston put a blanket over her while they tried to figure out how to get her out. They ended up cutting away the door, but they said since it took longer than 10 minutes, they had to airlift her by Lifeline helicopter to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford.
The sheriff’s office, as usual, sent a news release that morning telling us what had happened. When we called St. Anthony, they said they had no record of Wright being there.
After our story appeared online at Daily-Chronicle.com and in Thursday’s Daily Chronicle, Jami’s mom, Shareena Ritz, called me to let me know that her daughter had in fact been at the hospital and had been released around noon Wednesday.
And that trip to Brazil? That’s where Wright is going this afternoon as part of her studies to become a registered nurse. She’ll be working in clinics and orphanages there for a couple of weeks, and said she won’t let a sore chest and back and a few cuts and bruises stop her.
“Everybody asks, ‘You’re still going?’ ” she said. “And I’m like, ‘Yes, I am.’ ”
Wright wouldn’t be taking that trip had she not been wearing her seat belt and driving a vehicle with side-curtain airbags, which protected her head when her vehicle rolled over.
Luckily for Wright and her family – including her 7-year-old daughter – that was the case.
“I feel like it makes me more thankful for everything I do have,” Wright said. “It’s been nonstop, people asking ‘Are you OK?’ Just the support that I’ve had.”
Thanks to everyone who helped her that night, from the landowners who called 911 to the dispatchers, paramedics, firefighters, helicopter pilots and medical staff. Our community’s first responders do life-saving work every day, and we never know when we might need them.
Big event: We’ve had plenty of time to answer questions in our four-day series, “Confronting the Bully,” which concludes today.
But maybe you have some questions of your own you’d like answered.
If so, or if you just want to learn more about bullying, then please join us Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Kaneland High School for a special community forum on the issue.
The event, organized by the Daily Chronicle, our sister paper the Kane County Chronicle, and Kaneland, will feature a panel of experts including DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau Associate Director Andrea Monroe, columnist Robert Wallace, writer of the nationally syndicated “ ’Tween 12 and 20” column, Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez and others.
This free event is open to the public, and we welcome you to join us.
Big event II: If you’re more interested in the political races, check out the candidates’ night Wednesday at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St. in downtown DeKalb.
The event, organized by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, will feature candidates for the 90th state house District, judge in the new 23rd Judicial Circuit, which includes DeKalb County, state’s attorney and County Board Districts 5, 8, 9 and 10.
If you can’t make it, we’ll be covering the event that night. We’ll also have plenty of election coverage coming your way as the calendar turns to October. Online now at our Election Central website, elections.daily-chronicle.com, you can see bios for these and other candidates, as well as their responses to questions from our editorial board.
Sad story: I felt awful reading about the bicyclist who was killed while he rode to work Thursday along Mount Hunger Road in Sycamore.
John McGrath, 38, of Sycamore, was riding along the road during the predawn hours when he was hit by an oncoming truck that was passing another vehicle.
The driver of the truck was cited for improper passing and police said McGrath’s bicycle didn’t have required lights.
To me, it seemed a case of two people being in the wrong place at the wrong time with a tragic result, and I wish peace for McGrath’s family and the truck driver.
Many of us drive on two-lane, high-speed roads regularly, and it’s important that we not let our rush to pass the person going 5 or 10 mph below the speed limit override the natural fear of driving in the lane for oncoming traffic.
Please pass with care out there.
Officials are back: Tell me something, Bears fans, did you feel shame for the entire NFL because of that call the replacement referees made at the end of Monday Night Football to make the Seattle Seahawks 14-12 winners over the Green Bay Packers?
Or did you laugh?
I tried to be conciliatory. Sometimes I succeeded. But when I stepped into the office doorway of Daily Chronicle advertising director and Packers shareholder Karen Pletsch on Tuesday morning … I guess you’d have to say I guffawed. For a while. Sorry, Karen, but it was funny.
The replacement officials absolutely got the call wrong Monday night. But at least it took only three weeks of the season with scab refs – some of whom apparently were fired from previous gigs with the Lingerie Football League – to make NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell realize that their arrogance was ruining the game.
Thanks to the Packers for taking one for the good of the game. Also, thanks to the replacement refs for keeping Green Bay tied for last place in the NFC North.
• Eric Olson is the editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 257, email email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @DDC_Editor.