Werner had been in hospital beds in both London and Boston since November 10, 2012, after she was struck by a car that careened onto a sidewalk where she was walking in the West Hempstead neighborhood of London. Werner had been in London for only two months, attending graduate school to study event and conference management at the University of Westminster, and she had just returned to London earlier that week after visiting her family in Vermont.
Werner was kept sedated after the accident due to severe head trauma; she also suffered fractures to her pelvis, right leg, right arm, and face. Werner’s parents, Rich and Regina, were on a plane to London within hours of the accident and stayed by her side for three straight months. Rich Werner, a Dover police detective, fire chief, and school board chair, said that at first, talking to doctors and getting answers proved difficult. “There was a lot of confusion because one (doctor) would say ‘Well, you can plan on taking her home on this day,’ and another doctor would say, ‘No, she shouldn’t be flying that quick.’”
Rich and Regina stayed at hotels and a bed and breakfast within walking distance of St Mary’s Hospital, and managed their days around the hospital’s visiting hours, so they could be by their daughter’s side for every moment possible. They also networked with Amy’s friends in London so they could gather her possessions at her apartment, talk to Westminister University, and straighten out finances with a London bank. According to Rich, Amy’s friends would stop by multiple times each week even if Amy was not well enough to see them, bearing gifts for their friend, and food for her parents.
Amy was ready to be flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s level 1 trauma center in Boston in early December and while a breathing tube in her throat prevented her from speaking, she was able to open her eyes the week before she was air-bused. Rich talked to the Werner family physician in Townshend about the process of repatriating Amy, and what to expect transferring care from overseas. He also connected with local restaurant owner Phil Gilpin who set the Werners up with his brother George, who runs EASCare Ambulance company in Boston, to make transportation easier.
Amy spent time at Brigham and Women’s, as well as Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where Rich says the amount of support mail she received was astounding. “Twice a day Amy would get literally a pile of cards, and a nurse one day saw all the flowers and cards she had gotten and asked if she was at an FTD showroom or something,” said Werner with a laugh. “Amy loved receiving flowers.”
Amy was cleared to come home in January, and with her parents still by her side, she returned to Dover. While Amy is back in Vermont, her road to recovery continues. Amy is on a strict schedule for physical therapy and the Werners had to arrange their home to accommodate Amy’s needs, such as installing handrails for their staircases. Rich says his daughter is on a slow path, but the right one. “She’s getting better every day, but it was a long road, there were fractures, trauma, and internal injuries,” said Werner.
“It’s slow, but with physical therapy several times a week in and out of the home, she can do a lot for herself, but not everything she would like. Everyone told us to be prepared for three steps forward and two steps back, but, so far, she’s been on a consistent path of getting better. She has been able to get out of the house more lately which she enjoys tremendously.”
Speaking on behalf of his whole family, Werner is still amazed by how much support their community gave their daughter, from benefits to simple messages on Facebook. “I can’t say enough about how appreciative we are for how everybody helped out,” said Werner. “It’s unbelievable how a small town like this comes together when somebody needs help, and it’s appreciated hugely, I cannot stress that enough.”
But Rich and Regina were not surprised by Amy’s fighting spirit that Rich admits at times was stronger than his own. “Through everything, her attitude has been amazing,” said Rich. “She loves to see people she knows now that she’s home.”