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Only a split-second separates Life and Death

Local woman on bicycle T-boned by car turning left on a flashing yellow arrow


by: POST PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Kelly Carroll, left, owner of The Pet Biz in Boring, sits on a dog-grooming table because she cant stand very long, while her groomer, Hannah Lamvik, gives a client's English spaniel a haircut in preparation for a warm summer.There’s only a split second between life and death.

That’s the time when you’re riding a bike through an intersection and you see through peripheral vision the car coming toward you and there’s literally no time to do anything.

The fall

Avid cyclist Kelly Carroll knows the agony of that scenario. In that split second, her life came crashing down.

Along with her body.

The impact with the car’s bumper shattered her left leg, and the force threw her body about 10 feet in the air and forward about 30 feet. Meanwhile, the car continued to move forward, and Carroll landed on the windshield of the moving car — breaking her back in six places and causing blunt force trauma to her helmeted brain. One more fall from the car to a face plant on the asphalt roadway, and Carroll was moaning and wailing in extreme pain.

All from a car that wasn’t even in the left turn lane when Carroll entered the intersection.

by: POST PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Kelly Carroll's life changed in an instant when a car turning left on a flashing yellow arrow hit her.Carroll remembers time standing still after the initial impact; everything was in slow motion while she was flying through the air; and she doesn’t remember landing on the windshield that her body crushed.

“But I do remember hitting the pavement face first,” she said. “That was very obtrusively violent.”

‘Quick, call 9-1-1’

Witnesses Joe and Scott immediately began taking charge of the situation, calling 9-1-1, giving patient information to the dispatcher and directing traffic before police arrived at the crossing of Powell Valley Road and Kane Drive.

Joe and Scott confirmed for Carroll that the third person assisting was named Neil, but no one knows who he is or where he’s from.

It was Neil who talked with the 9-1-1 dispatcher while he was lying on the asphalt beside Carroll, caring for her with a bedside manner that would rival that of any doctor.

In the midst of Carroll’s moaning and wailing, Neil comforted her and kept talking to her, telling her he was a cyclist and that the ambulance was coming for her and asking her questions so she would speak and stay awake — as her body kept trying to go into unconscious deep shock.

“I kept trying to fall asleep,” Carroll said. “And he literally forced me to stay awake until the ambulance came.

“We really want to know who Neil is. My attorney also wants to talk with him.”

Looking back to the night before that fateful day, April 30, Carroll remembers attaching a basket to the back of her bike so her 18-pound companion, Ruben Stuben, a papillon chihuahua and pug mix with his own Facebook page, could ride along with her to her pet grooming business in downtown Boring.

When the car hit the bike, the basket flew toward the sidewalk with Ruben still inside. Luckily, Ruben landed on his feet and suffered only a little abrasion under his jaw. That was his second time surviving being hit by a car.

Help is coming

From the emergency room, although she doesn’t remember it, Carroll telephoned her best friend, Peggy Norton, and said, “I’m in the hospital; I got hit by a car.”

“We’re really good friends,” Norton said. “We’re really close to each other, and I am here to support her with what she’s going through.”

Norton wasn’t feeling well the day Carroll called but, no matter, she immediately went to her friend’s side.

Six days later, after surgery and the beginnings of recovery, Carroll left the trauma unit of the hospital — slowly, carefully and painfully.

Prior to the crash, Carroll was very physically active, but when she left the hospital she had to use a walker.

“I felt really violated physically,” she said of her condition. “The first four weeks were difficult to get through. There was the pain from the leg and back injuries, but also the brain trauma. I was confused and couldn’t remember a lot.”

Her brain is healing slowly, she knows, but even now she says she can’t focus on anything that requires thought for more than 30 minutes.

Rude awakening

When Carroll came home from the hospital, she found a 72-hour eviction notice at her apartment (She was six days late with her rent). The landlord knew she wouldn’t be able to work and earn money to pay rent, Carroll said.

“My church family packed my whole house and moved it in a day. I love you guys,” she said, speaking directly to Norton, who is still at her side.

Since Carroll had no money and no home, she moved in, temporarily, with her son in Camas, Wash.

However, not everyone was of the same attitude as the apartment landlord.

Her Boring business landlord, for example, has told her he will wait until she gets back on her feet before she has to pay the monthly lease cost for the building housing her pet grooming business.

Her credit union, for another example, has postponed her payment on a car loan.

“They (the credit union) even donated to the fundraiser,” Carroll said excitedly, “the people I owe money to.”

Carroll is not amazed, because she knows the people, but she is continually thankful for the way her fellow church members are taking care of her needs while she is challenged with healing injuries, having no income and trying to regain her clients who need a groomer.

Besides Norton, there are many other members involved from the First Love Church, which meets at the Phonics Phactory School in east Gresham.

Members of the church, led by Norton and Lynn George, have organized a fundraiser to help with the financial burdens caused by Carroll’s current situation.

“When you help another person, it blesses you more than them,” George said. “This is how you find out that people really do care.”

The fundraiser is scheduled for 2-6 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at the school, 3333 NE Eighth St. in Gresham. For information about what to expect, read the details in the information box accompanying this article.

Looking ahead

For the future, Carroll continues physical therapy and is not very active, choosing to let her stressed body try to heal.

She certainly knows she will never groom dogs as she has for the past 30 years. That career ended in a split second. Her weakened back and the leg with a titanium rod are not strong enough to allow her to work all day.

But her traumatized brain is healing, and she does know how to manage her business. So she’s planning to train and hire another groomer. Her faithful companion groomer, Hannah Lamvik, is staying.

“I am amazed at this community,” Carroll said. “I’m in awe of the community that is keeping me here and keeping my life alive.”

Even though Carroll can’t groom animals, she is able to hire and train groomers and manage her business.

And that is a blessing in disguise.