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Thanking her lucky stars

Sandy High senior recovering from pedestrian vs. vehicle crash
by: contributed photo This photo was taken of Stevie Urwin and her cat, Nala, during happier times, before the day Stevie was hit by a truck while walking alongside Highway 211 near Bornstedt Road.

Stevie Rae Urwin, 19, of Brightwood has no memory of May 23, when she walked her friend's dog from her house-sitting job in Sandy to the home of her best friend, Chelsea Jordan Galatz.

Her mother, Tammy, says Stevie was planning to go to Sandy High School with Chelsea to see an art exhibit, where Stevie had some of her work.

Stevie also remembers very little of the day before May 23 or the 10 days after she was nearly killed when the impact of a pickup hitting her from behind on Highway 211 sent her flying across the road, crashing into the pavement.

Besides the cuts, scrapes, bruises and broken bones, she suffered a severe foot injury and an even more critical brain injury.

She was in a coma for 10 days at Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Health Center in Portland, clinging to life by a thread.

The pressure from brain swelling was relieved, and fluid in her lungs was drained to help fight pneumonia.

Throughout the rest of May, tubes and wires were attached to her seemingly lifeless body while doctors tried to repair the results of an instant in time that had turned her life upside-down.

Her parents, Tammy and John Urwin, visited their daughter daily. Many of Stevie's friends and classmates at Sandy High School, who had just graduated without her, wrote about their feelings on a Facebook page.

Five days after she entered the hospital, Tammy wrote that Stevie is being given a paralyzing agent to keep the pressure down on her brain.

Eight days into her coma, Tammy wrote, Stevie is still critical, but the doctors have reduced her medication and set the life-support system to assist her only when she needs it.

There have been countless prayers from her many friends and family members since she entered the hospital, but the intensity and number of prayers increased on the last day of May.

Seven days into Stevie's coma, Fern Urwin, Stevie's grandmother from Montana, wrote that she has prayer chains going for Stevie in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Washington, California, Montana and Oregon.

'She is going to have a full recovery,' Fern wrote. 'I have faith. It's in God's hands.'

Best friend Chelsea was at the hospital on the 10th day, when Stevie opened her eyes. Shontai Hanks Sperling from Dundee also was at the hospital with Chelsea.

'Our girl is awake,' Chelsea wrote. 'Praise God. Keep hanging in there, Stevie. I love you so much. ... I haven't stopped crying tears of joy since I left her bedside.'

'She could not speak,' Shontai wrote, 'but she was saying so much with her precious eyes. She is a fighter, and she will (survive).'

During the night of Stevie's third day of wakefulness, the pneumonia seemed to be winning and the fluid on her lungs was increasing. Tubes were added and medication changed to help her fight the battle. That's when Christina Thiessen, who apparently has some experience with trauma patients, wrote words of support: 'It is a hard road to overcome, but the pneumonia will go away, and so will the fluid.'

Sandy High School graduate Brittney Collins described a recent dream that placed her in downtown Sandy.

'I ran into Stevie,' she wrote about the dream. 'It made me so happy. We both ran to each other and hugged for a long time.'

After it was announced that Stevie would be coming home June 17, notes from many of her friends started showing up on the Facebook page.

For example, Thiessen wrote again, saying, 'Miracles do happen, and God has a plan for Miss Stevie.'

Stevie remembered seeing what she called 'unexpected' comments on Facebook while still in the hospital.

'I didn't realize how many people cared that much,' she said.

Now, after nearly seven weeks of home recovery and a couple of return trips to the hospital, Stevie is still feeling a lot of pain in her foot. She says sometimes it feels like her toes are on fire, and other times like someone is stabbing the bottom of her foot with a knife.

Tammy says her daughter hasn't slept much at night, and she hears Stevie moaning when the pain becomes difficult to take. Her head is sensitive, and it hurts if she tries to scratch an itch.

But her friends describe her as 'stubborn,' so they know Stevie will prevail.

'I have my own mind,' she said. 'So the way I think things is a little different from the way other people think things. I see things that others don't, and that works for me - to be stubborn.'

She admits to being 'honest' and telling others what she thinks, without looking for sympathy. She says she likes 'to do things on my own.'

In a word, she's independent.

'Being run over was a major inconvenience,' she said. 'It screwed up what I was going to do (graduate high school and go to art school in San Diego).'

She has at least one more barrier to overcome because the doctors have just realized her little finger must have been broken in the crash. Now it won't straighten, Stevie said.

The plan is, after Stevie gains enough strength and healing, to put her to sleep for another surgery. The doctors will break her little finger and then set it in place with a cast so it will heal in the proper position and function normally.

Asked what gives her a smile, Stevie named two things she likes to do: hang out with Chelsea and Melissa Boren-Lane and watch videos of Green Day, an American punk rock band.

Her favorite Green Day video is 'Waiting,' she said, because it has a line in the lyrics that has become her identity - her persona.

The band sings 'Better thank your lucky stars.'

'I've wanted that as a tattoo since sixth grade,' Stevie said, 'so pretty much every morning I wake up and say it. And even though some things might not be going as I would want them to, I can be thankful for what I do have and thank my lucky stars.

'This means a lot more now because I was ran over and when I woke up I was able to be alive and remember everyone I love and everyone who means anything to me.'