Lauran Hicks is in a rehab facility and continues to recover from a motorcycle crash over the summer. (PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY FAMILY FROM SIGNING TO PLAY VOLLEYBALL FOR COLLEGE AND VACATION)
DALTON Doctors and nurses surrounding Lauran Hicks and her family say the 24-year-old Dalton High graduate’s tenacity, strength, independence, youth and athleticism are all on her side as she fights to recover from injuries from a motorcycle accident this summer.
The support of her family and friends and prayer warriors at her bedside and in the community also seem to be helping her in her daily battle.
For three-and-a-half months, the Hicks family and friends have sat with her, talked to her, reassuringly touched her, played music for her and taken her out of a local rehabilitation facility for fresh air in a medical wheelchair.
It’s been exhausting and heartbreaking, but Lauran’s family has hope and they ask for continued prayers for a complete recovery.
“I 100 percent believe that there are so many people praying for her,” Lauran’s mom, Sandy Hicks, wrote in a text message. She shared that earlier this month she asked her daughter if she could see the television and she told her to blink once if she could – and she did. Others have done the same thing, and Lauran seems to be answering them correctly with one blink meaning “yes” and two rapid blinks in a row meaning “no.”
On June 28, Hicks was a passenger on a motorcycle with a friend she worked with. The motorcycle accident late that afternoon was a single-vehicle crash along Mechanicsburg Road south of Smithville Western Road in Wayne Township. The driver, Joshua Perrera, 32, of Rittman died as a result of injuries, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Sandy Hicks said her daughter was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash and she believes that is what saved her. She calls the two nurses from the Wooster area “angels” who were put in her path directly afterwards to perform rescue breathing on Lauran. Accord-ing to information provided by Sandy, Lauran was transported to the hospital by a medical helicopter. She had sustained traumatic brain injury with a contusion on her spinal cord, a fracture to her left eye socket and nose. Doctors told the family she was in a coma at the crash site, came out of the coma, but was unconscious as a medical team worked on her in the ICU. She was intubated and assisted by a ventilator as needed but was breathing on her own. Her path to recovery has included fighting pneumonia and other infections.
“The doctors and nurses were amazing!” Sandy Hicks wrote. “We were told by her neurologists it can take up to 6 months to a year to determine her outcome, with 6 months normally being the marker for what’s to come.”
Hicks wrote that an MRI in July showed the contusion was mostly healed. Her daughter was moved to a long-term acute care specialty hospital where she remained for more than a month. Respiratory therapists worked for days to wean her off the ventilator. Next, she was transported to a local nursing and rehab facility. For the past two months, physical, occupational and speech therapists have worked with her daily and Lauran continues to undergo testing and evaluation.
“She is slowly coming along and continues to heal,” Sandy Hicks wrote.
She said in a text message that she hopes her daughter may try to speak once the tracheostomy tube is removed.
The Dalton native turned 24 on Sept. 29. She works third shift at Smucker’s where her family ex-pects she will want to return once she is fully recovered. Lauran was involved in sports throughout high school career before she graduated from Dalton in 2017. For volleyball, as a senior she was part of the team that advanced to the Division IV state Final Four and was first team all-county and first team all-district. She played volleyball for a year for Ursuline College where she pursued nursing.
Active in the community for the past four years as a volleyball coach, this season would have been the start of her third year as a basketball coach for Dalton High, and she was approved by the school board over the summer to be the freshman volleyball coach.
The community has shown their support and love for the family through prayers and actions. A Gofundme account was set up over the summer by Lora Knopp to help the family pay for medical bills. Ninety donations totaled $8,462. Chicken quickly sold out when Dalton’s basketball and volleyball teams organized a chicken barbecue July 15 in the high school parking lot with chicken donated by Gerber’s Poultry. Lisa Shoup, executive vice president for Gerber’s Poultry, wrote in an email over the summer that her daughters played sports with Lauran in high school and Kirsten coached with Lauran for a couple of years. She said more than 800 pieces of chicken were cooked for the barbecue and sold out very early raising more than $22,000 for the family.
“From the beginning we’ve touched her … talked to her, laughed and cried around her, read to her, played music for her and talked medical around her,” Sandy Hicks wrote. “We believe she can hear and sense all things, even though she hasn’t been fully awake or with it yet. Lauran is an incredibly strong, athletic, independent, tough young lady and we hope and pray for full recovery. All of her doctors and nurses have said that she has all of this to her advantage. We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. Means so much!! This is something we would’ve never thought we’d be going through and it’s been incredibly hard and painstaking. The waiting is so painfully hard and to see her in the state she is in. Thank you all again and please keep praying for complete recovery. God is good!”