Friday, August 3, 2012

A Sister's Perspective By: Jeanne

We were still celebrating the holiday festivities preparing to ring in a prosperous New Year. My husband chose to expand his career with a different company which meant a higher paying salary and better benefits. 2012 was going to be our year we moved into a new home and decided to host for the first time a New Year's Eve party because we finally had the space to invite all of our friends and family. My sister Kate moved back to Ohio with her husband Zach and her daughter Ava to start an all American life. She went from a one bedroom apartment in Sacramento to a three bedroom house with a huge yard. I was excited because she moved to the town where I live and was eager to make a better life for her family. We were all on a high note until December 28th at 7:42 p.m., my phone rang. It was my mom. She shook me to my core with these words "your sister has been in an accident, a plane accident." My jaw dropped and I didn't know what to say. I really didn't believe her.  My sister lives two seconds from me and had talked about going to the art museum. Why would she be in a plane she has a little eighteen month old baby? Not only that but her in laws were coming here to visit she would have never been in a plane especially today. I told my mom someone is playing a cruel joke on us it isn't real. Then these words shook me out of my disbelief "Jean this is REAL it has happened. I have packed my bags and am headed to the hospital with Josh (my nephew)". All of a sudden a flashback to February 2002 almost ten years ago came rushing back to me chilling me to my core. I received a similar phone call from my mom about having to get to the hospital due to an emergency with a frightfully different outcome. My father suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away before we could get to him. I was thirty years old and four months pregnant with my youngest daughter. What happened to the confident, strong, blessed person I had built myself into? I was standing in the middle of a tornado being ripped into pieces thinking about what life had dealt us again.
I knew I couldn't stay in that mode for long. I had so many questions, Where was Ava? Where is Zach?, Was Kate able to recover from her injuries? So I reached deep inside of myself and tried to figure it out. With only that phone call, none from Zach or Zach's family, (I tried calling Zach but it only went to voicemail) I was headed to the hospital my mom said Miami Valley Hospital. First I had to find the address of the hospital. I got on the Internet well they have two locations so I called the hospital and they told me that they didn't have a Kate Bowles and did not admit an airplane crash victim and I should try the other location. So I did and they also did not have any one admitted by that name. I just wanted to get in the car to get to my sister. I was beginning to think that this was just a cruel joke. I knew it was a Warren County accident so I called the Warren County troopers and they confirmed that she was transported to Miami Valley Hospital. I know what you might be thinking but I am horrible with directions and the last thing I needed was to be headed in the wrong direction so I called Miami Valley Hospital back and assured her that the trooper that was at the scene said my sister was transported to that location by Care flight. She took some time and said oh yes she is here, she is listed as unidentified. I asked does that mean she has passed away and she confirmed with a "yes". I went into panic and my family was in tears as they were crowded around me waiting to hear any news. All of a sudden she said hold please, really oh my goodness what is going on. A few seconds later a nurse came on the line and at first had to reassure me that Kate was not only there but also was ALIVE but not doing well. I assured her that that was my sister, Katherine Bowles, and that me and my family would be there as fast as we could. Finally, I knew where she was and a calmness hit me because I looked into my families faces who were intently staring at me and I knew I once again had to be the strong, confident person that I could be to drive myself to the hospital safely to be able to get to Kate and then back home to them. I drove, I cried and most certainly I prayed.
Me and my sister, Sandy made it there first. Kate was one of four people on the plane and was the most critical. Her injuries astounded us she had a broken pelvis, broken arm, broken hand, broken ribs, lacerated liver and spleen, shearing head trauma with bleeding in the brain. The accident happened around 4:00p.m. why were we notified almost four hours later? Why was my sister all alone? I was mortified that my sister had to endure those first four hours by herself. Needless to say she was placed into an induced coma. I immediately went to her bedside shocked by the tubes, shocked by the immobility, shocked by the dirt and tree limb pieces in her hair and ears and told her to come back to us that we needed her, Ava needed her. I told her it was okay if she saw dad but she couldn't stay with him she needed to come back and fight, fight for Ava. I then begged and pleaded to my father to send her back that it wasn't her time to go yet. At this point my mom is signing all the paperwork that is needed and Kate is in good hands now I focus on  Where is Ava?
We had a plan a chaotic plan. My mom would stay twenty four hours with Kate, Sandy would go back and forth to the hospital and Ava would stay with me. If you could take one thing away from our experience in this tragedy is that everyone needs an emergency plan especially if you have young children. We will outline one we wish we had in our next post.


  1. So many questions go through my head but I know the most important thing is that Kate is back home with Ava. Wow.

  2. I barely got through this post, you all amaze me!

  3. You have such amazing and strong women in your family. I adore Kate from afar and I'm so happy she's recovered so well. I'm happy you have each other.

  4. Wow, no words. So glad you mention having an emergency plan in important! I very unexpectedly lost my 35 year old husband this November and was home with my then 5 year old daughter while it happened. Nothing was planned ahead as this was nothing we had ever given serious thought to...we were gonna be old and gray and empty nesters before this ever had to be considered, right? Obviously I was in no mind to make clear decisions and it would have been much easier if we already had a plan for unexpected tragedy. :( so so so glad that things turned out differently for your family.

    1. Words can't explain how we feel for you and your daughter. We send all our strength to you as you deal with your unfortunate loss.

  5. I've been hesitant to read this post because I knew I'd cry.... Oh my goodness *tears* I remember clearly when I first heard of the accident on twitter. I know I've said it before but will say it again, I am so in awe of Kate and so glad she's made it back.