LOVELAND, Colorado (CBS4) – A Wyoming woman says she’s lucky to be alive after a semi truck struck her going more than 65 mph. She was walking down the shoulder of a snowy roadway when the semi hit her. She suffered broken bones, torn skin and a traumatic brain injury.
Due to memory loss Jennifer Chapman, 41, isn’t clear why she was walking down the remote road in the middle of a snowstorm in January 2018. However, she is thanking the staff at UCHealth’s Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland for saving her life and facilitating her incredible recovery.
“I don’t know what had happened,” Chapman told CBS4. “I was in a coma for approximately three weeks. (Investigators) did think I had ran out of gas. And, I was on foot.”
The semi driver did not have cellphone reception at the point of where the collision took place. He waited for another vehicle to pass by, and asked them to drive to where they could get reception to report it. He later told police he was driving down the roadway when Chapman walked out into traffic. She had frostbitten fingers.
Chapman was taken to a hospital in Casper, Wyoming. From there, while in a coma, she was transported to Loveland for treatment in the intensive care unit.
“They said, ‘There’s been a woman hit by a semi.’ And, I had to have them repeat it, because it didn’t make sense, in terms of the gravity of the injury,” said Dr. James McCarthy, physician and surgeon at the hospital.
Chapman underwent more than 20 surgeries in a hospital stay that lasted more than 50 days. When she woke up, she didn’t know why she was in the hospital. She hasn’t regained memories within the month leading up to her collision.
During her recovery at the hospital, it wasn’t clear if she would be able to keep her legs. Doctors worked to heal her, both mentally and physically, while surveying their options and considering whether amputation would be necessary. At one point, Chapman had a 12% survival rate.
“(I was wondering) will I ever be able to move my arms again? What if I don’t ever walk again?” Chapman recalled.
However, an extensive team of doctors, nurses, speech therapists and more came together to give her full treatment. The hospital staff’s work ultimately saved her legs.
Chapman said she was thankful for the UCHealth team and their willingness to help her.
“One of my doctors (McCarthy) prayed with me before every surgery,” Chapman said.
“A lot of what she was going through was not only physical, but psychological, spiritual,” McCarthy said.
On Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy joined other staff members in the Medical Center of the Rockies facility. Chapman surprised them by showing her full range of mobility, ability to walk down stairs and show her strength when it comes to dancing after such a difficult recovery. Some doctors said they were impressed her recovery was so significant given the status she first arrived in at the hospital in 2018.
“I can’t thank (the staff) enough,” Chapman said. “I know, in their minds, they are just doing what they are supposed to do. But, it means everything to my family and my kids.”