How a crash changed the life of a BHS Senior

One June day redefined the life of Paityn Phillips

It was a normal day for 17 year old senior Paityn Phillips. Paityn, her boyfriend Sawyer, and mutual friend Jordan had gone to a junkyard outside of Saint Bonnie for truck parts. After they had gotten everything they needed for Sawyers truck they started their drive home. 

What she doesn’t remember was that they took Highway 7, near Saint Bonnie, when suddenly Sawyer had swerved into the other lane. The truck they were in went into oncoming traffic, side swiped a tow truck with a vehicle on tow and then hit the semi behind head-on. 

“I saw a truck coming for us outta the corner of my eye,” Jordan said. “Then everything went black for a second. I finally opened my eyes and looked over to see if Sawyer and Paityn were okay. I saw Sawyer covered in blood and I just thought in my head, ‘He’s dead.’ I then noticed Paityn had been flung into the front seat of the truck and landed head first by my leg. I heard people yelling and noticed people running towards the truck. I climbed out while people yelled at me to ‘sit down’ and ‘stay still’ . I was more worried about my friends. I turned and grabbed Paityn from the truck and set her in the grass, she kept trying to talk and asking questions.”

  Paityn woke up in a hospital two days later with a fractured neck, fractured back, traumatic brain injury and news that she could end up paralyzed. However, Paityn beat those odds. She was placed in a full back and neck brace, then the road to recovery started. After over a week in the hospital, Paityn’s recovery continued at home. Paityn missed the majority of First Quarter and is still going to physical therapy five months later. 

“When I first woke up I didn’t know where I was,” Paityn said. “I had to relearn to walk; two nurses had to help me at first. I had to learn to work around a back and neck brace. On the way home from the hospital my dad slammed on the breaks and I cried because it scared me. I liked being able to drive myself, I had more control.

“I’ve learned to; always pay attention while driving. Always tell your family and friends you love them, always. Tomorrow is never promised, so enjoy every moment.”

Sawyer was airlifted from the crash to North Memorial Hospital. Sawyer’s injuries were close to fatal. Sawyer had to undergo three surgeries that in the end saved his life. Sawyer had problems with his arteries and has made a slow but impactful recovery. Sawyer was first in a wheelchair and slowly, with the help of physical therapy, made it to using crutches. Now Sawyer is walking all by himself. 

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