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Orcas woman’s fight for survival
She remembers seeing the deer, swerving and feeling the car roll downhill. When it stopped, she unbuckled her seatbelt and pulled herself from the wreckage. She remembers crawling on her elbows and forearms until she felt gravel beneath her body. She reached in her coat pocket and found her cell phone not knowing if she had enough service coverage to call 911. When a voice came through on the other line she started crying saying, “I’m on Orcas Island, the car went downhill, off the side of the road.” She remembers the helicopter’s blades spinning and feeling rain on her face.
“I’m so glad to be alive and to be able to kiss my children and see my husband,” said Kerrissa Thorson-Shaepe from her hospital bed while nurses cleaned a wound from the accident.
Thorson-Shaepe, 36, a long-time Orcas Island resident, is recovering from multiple injuries after a single-car rollover near the intersection of Buckhorn and Raccoon Point Roads on Feb. 3. She said she was driving to get snacks after the power went out during the third quarter of the Super Bowl. When a deer jumped into the road she swerved – narrowly missing the creature, but sending her car plunging downhill and through a clump of bushes and trees before crashing into a pump house, where her vehicle rolled onto its side and came to a stop. That’s when she pulled herself from the wreck and called for help.
“The paramedics and EMS guys are awesome and if I could I would give them all a great big hug,” Thorson-Shaepe said.”For so many reasons I could have not lived. I am so lucky to have all of my fingers and toes and no head trauma and no significant back damage.”
Her injuries include a broken pelvis, several broken teeth and a large wound on her leg. She said doctors believe that it could be at least six months before she will be able to walk again.
Thorson-Shaepe was born in Seattle, but grew up on Waldron and Orcas Island. She works as a landscaper and gardener on Orcas, where she lives with her husband Rob Shaepe and their three children. She also has a daughter attending the Washington State School for the Blind and a step-son who lives in Montana.
“What I want most from people is to give whoever they consider their loved ones a hug or call them and tell them how much they mean to you,” she said. “I’m so grateful that I am alive.”
There is an account set-up at Islander’s Bank for Kerrissa Thorson-Shaepe to help pay for medical expenses.