Jessica Whetstine Recovering After Evansville Motorcycle Pallet Accident – Join Her for Jessie’s My Girl Benefit
It was a day like any other day. She was a normal young woman who was about to embark on a summer full of fun and freedom. Then, in the blink of an eye things changed. Her life changed...
Jessica Whetstine, a 21-year-old Memorial High School graduate, and her boyfriend Tyler Norrenbrock hopped on the back of a motorcycle for a quick 10-minute ride. The couple never made it to their destination.
At around 9:15 p.m. on I-164, the couple came upon a pallet tumbling in the interstate just as they passed the Morgan Ave. exit. Tyler tried to avoid the pallet but a terrible accident ensued. Tyler only had minor injuries while Jessie sustained severe trauma to the head. Both were wearing helmets.
Jessie's injuries left her medical staff, friends and family wondering what was going to happen to the courageous young woman. About five weeks after the accident, I had a chance to speak with Jessie's father, Chris Whetstine, about her recovery and her upcoming benefit Jessie's My Girl.
Mr. Whetstine was very candid with me about his daughter's prognosis and the wide range of emotions that he has felt.
Ashley: Five weeks have passed since Jessie's accident. Where is she now in her recovery process?
Chris: Well, Jessie is still in a coma. And, it's not like the movies... people don't just wake up from a coma - there are stages of 'awakeness' that they go through. She has a traumatic brain injury and because every brain injury is different and affects different people in different ways, there really is no plan or prognosis. We expect a long road ahead of us. The time frame is two years in rehab but Jessie is improving more quickly than anyone thought she would.
Ashley: What went through your mind when you heard about what happened to Jessie?
Chris: Every parent has a worry process. It starts when your kids are babies - or maybe even before then and it lasts for... forever. You live in fear that you will receive a phone call that they were in an accident or something tragic has happened. It was really scary. When you first get the call, you don't know how bad it is or if your child will be in one piece.
Ashley: What happened when you got to her?
Chris: It was an incredibly confusing time - we didn't know how to deal with an emergency situation like that, let alone the medical or emotional part of all this. We were at the mercy of other folks - the professionals, friends, family and everyone has been great. I was so amazed at the emergency personnel that literally save people's lives every day and the people in our lives who didn't ask what they could do - they just did it. This whole experience has been humbling and I want to give a big 'thank you' to everyone. From our community to complete strangers (some from out of state) who read Jessie's story and wanted to help, or pray for us or share their concerns. My terror has turned into gratitude. My little girl is in a hospital bed - and I'm at a point that I can say that I'm thankful that her body isn't destroyed, that she is waking up, that we are surrounded by caring people!
Ashley: Have any new developments been made regarding the case?
Chris: No one has come forward with any additional information.
Ashley: What changes have you seen in Jessie since the accident?
Chris: It's been five weeks and it has been touch and go. In the beginning, there were times when we thought she might not make it through the night and now she is sitting up in a wheel chair. She currently has pneumonia so we are fighting that on top of everything. Jessie has her ups and downs. We all know the boat could sink at any minute but as a family we are thinking positive and helping Jessie just keep moving forward.
Ashley: So tell me about Jessie's My Girl Benefit hosted by her family and boyfriend Tyler Norrenbrock.
Chris: It's going to be a big party where we are going to laugh and sing and just have a good time with all or new and old friends. We are going to celebrate the fact that Jessie is still with us. We have lots of people - hundreds in fact - who have donated items that we are going to raffle or auction off with all proceeds going toward Jessie's recovery expenses. Hopefully, Jessie will be able to make it - we will make that call the day of the benefit. Click Here for more info about the Jessie's My Girl Benefit.
Ashley: Anything else you want to say to Jessie or the community?
Chris: To Jessie - Dad has been taking bets on who is going to be the first to run a marathon... you are in the lead by far! To the community - Thank you so much for your prayers, donations, food, concern and love. It's all been so humbling... You can read about Jessie online at www.whetstine.com.