Jamie Nash was living in Ennis, working at a job she loved, enjoying time with her friends and her children.
Life was good for the 27-year-old. But on June 27, 2010, she was driving her PT Cruiser east of Ennis on State Highway 85 when everything changed. Nash was texting on her cell phone and lost control of the vehicle, which rolled over and burst into flames. The driver’s side door was pinned by a tree and she was trapped in the fire.
She attributes the accident to texting while driving.
“Looking down and looking back up – in a split second you can have an accident,” she said, saying her father reviewed her cell phone records, which confirmed she was texting at the time.
Nash sits in a recliner in her parents’ living room. Her turquoise short-sleeved polo shirt reveals her thin arms covered in beige bandages as well as her hands. Only the tip of the pinky on her right hand
peeks through the gloves covering her hands. Her stepmother removes the bandages on her arms revealing the burns. She wears a smile, but admits that keeping a positive attitude is difficult.
“So many times we hear of young people dying from texting. I am so blessed to be here,” she said. “I can do something about this. It’s tragic.”
Nash said two passersby stopped to assist and called 9-1-1, dispatching Ellis County sheriff’s deputies to the scene.
“We don’t know who the two good Samaritans were – they didn’t want to be identified,” she said. “I really want to express my gratitude. How wonderful it is to have such wonderful people. The deputies that showed up and the good Samaritans – words cannot express how I feel. That’s why I’m alive today.”
Nash said she remembers regaining consciousness and hearing voices yelling “get her out.”
“I could hear their footsteps and as soon as I looked over to my window I saw that good Samaritan. I yelled, ‘Get me out I’m on fire,’ ” she said. “In the blink of an eye, he jerked me out and when I hit the ground I knew I was OK. Then I was out again until 10 weeks later.”
She was flown to the burn center at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where she remained in a coma for 10 weeks.
“There is a lot I don’t remember so I’ve had to depend on them (my parents) to tell me things. My memory is still – it gets a little hazy,” she said.
She suffered third and fourth degree burns over 70 percent of her body. Her collarbone was broken from the seatbelt, which she said held her body in position away from the flames, which probably prevented her face and stomach from being burned. She has lost three of her toes.
Nash said she was on her cell phone constantly. Even her boss would fuss at her and make her promise not to text while driving.
“I would promise to and I would be good for a little bit,” she said, saying she always slipped back into the habit. “He knew when he saw the accident on the news exactly what it was. He knew I was on the phone.”
Nash lives with her parents, Dan and Donna Ricketts, who moved from their home in Crandall to Dallas to maintain residency in the county so she qualifies for care at Parkland. Donna quit her job to care for Jamie full time.
Her care is ongoing including wound care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and treatment at the burn clinic throughout the week.
“A lot of people think ‘well she’s home so she’s OK now,’” Donna said.
Dan said when they were at the hospital every day and night for six months, they thought that was tough.
“We didn’t know that was a vacation at the hospital. The work started when she got home,” he said. “Her therapists and other doctors have it instilled in Jamie that right now she has to focus on herself. It is all about getting well.”
Jamie said the road to recovery will be a long one, maybe as much as 10 years. She’s had 25 surgeries and has countless more to come. She says the ordeal has made her a totally different person.
“I now know to ask for help and it’s OK. I’m not superwoman – I need to just check my ego and I’ve done that,” she said, saying she smiles a lot more and appreciates life. “I’m going to do something positive and good in this world. Be that person I know I can be.”
She wants to become a counselor for the burn survivor group at Parkland to serve as a mentor visiting those who have been burned and are in treatment in the acute care unit where she has received care.
Above all, her goal is to create awareness about the dangers of driving and texting. She said reaching just one person can make a difference.
“I think coming from me it will mean more after what I have been through,” she said. “Their life is worth more than phone call or a text. Put the phone down. It’s not worth it.”
Contact Rebecca at email@example.com or call 469-517-1451.