Mass. Woman Trapped in Wreck For Eight Hours

Mass. Woman Trapped in Wreck For Eight Hours

News Jan 01, 2013

Jan. 01--WEST YARMOUTH -- The woman who survived eight hours trapped in her wrecked minivan says she remembers little of her ordeal except for the darkness and the cold.

Megan Lynn Haley, 27, of West Yarmouth had gone to a class at Cape Cod Community College, where she is a part-time student, earlier on the evening of Dec. 12. Afterward, she met a friend at Red Face Jack's on Route 28 in West Yarmouth. At about 10:30 p.m. she was driving home on Winslow Gray Road when her car went off the road and landed sideways in dark woods.

"I don't remember anything," Haley said Monday, sitting in the small Orchid Lane home she shares with her two daughters, Lilian, 7, and Lauryn, 4.

She doesn't remember what made her miss the sharp turn on Winslow Gray Road that night. She doesn't remember the car striking trees and flipping on its side.

"I just remember waking up, and it being cold and dark, and I could see headlights going by, and yelling but no one could hear me," she said.

Her cellphone had died earlier in the evening, but it didn't matter; her arm was caught behind something so she couldn't reach the phone even if it had been charged, she said.

Although most of her body could move, her head was pinned within the mangled vehicle, she said.

"I think I was on my back, and my head was on the ground," she said.

The police have not completed their investigation of the crash. They are still awaiting toxicology and final crash reconstruction results, Deputy Chief Steven Xiarhos said.

'panicked and worried'

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The night of the crash, Haley spent hours in temperatures that dipped into the 20s. She said she drifted in and out of consciousness, with no idea of the passage of time.

The first time she awoke, all she saw was darkness. All she felt was cold. She wore only a North Face fleece jacket and slip-on boots that had fallen off at some point in her ordeal. She wore no hat and no gloves.

"I was scared, panicked and worried because I was supposed to be home," Haley said.

Her boyfriend was watching her daughters. When she didn't respond to his texts and calls, he became worried enough to call the police as well as the hospital, she said.

According to the police, her boyfriend told Detective Eric Nuss that he had called the police at around 6 a.m. to check to see if there had been any crashes or arrests. At that time, the police had no reports of an accident.

Haley said she felt no pain, only the cold.

As dawn broke, she woke up and saw the windshield in front of her. It was cracked, and she kicked at it with her bare feet, hoping that if it broke, someone would hear her cries. "I was calling for help," Haley said.

And finally a woman with a heavy accent -- who had been out walking her dog at 6:55 a.m. -- called back and said she was going to call 911 right away.

"I was just so relieved," Haley said

Haley lay awake as rescue workers used tools to stabilize and cut away at the 2006 Honda Odyssey.

When firefighters arrived they found the engine was stone cold and the vehicle so badly damaged they couldn't immediately see anyone inside, Yarmouth fire Capt. Jonathan Sawyer said.

The van was resting on the driver's side.

Most likely Haley's head lay pinned on the ground with the driver's side window broken beneath her, because she had twigs and dirt in her hair when the firefighters pulled her out, she said.

She remembers the firefighters covering her with blankets and giving her fluids to warm her.

She asked the police to alert her boyfriend, who was busy that morning getting Lauryn to day care and Lilian on the bus.

Haley also recalls the medical technicians giving her pain medication in the helicopter that flew her to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She spent most of the day in the emergency room. Doctors tried to repair her eye, and they stitched up a gash on her forehead.

In the end, Haley had no frostbite, no broken bones.

She has, however, permanently lost the use of one eye because of the pressure on the optic nerve from being stuck in the same position for so long, she said. But she returned home after just four days in the hospital to celebrate Christmas with her daughters and large extended family.

'a very giving person'

Her younger sister, Elizabeth Sullivan, was with her Monday. When asked how the family reacted to Haley's accident, Sullivan could only say "We were scared" before becoming too emotional to speak.

Haley's little girls, meanwhile, played happily in the house.

Haley, soft-spoken and humble, said she could provide no hidden wisdom or survival skill that sustained her through that long night.

"I think it was her kids and her family" that kept her going, said her father, Mark Sullivan, of South Dennis.

"She is a very strong kid," he added. "She is happy-go-lucky, always with a smile. She is the type of person who would do anything for her friends, her sisters, her parents and everyone else. She's a very giving person."

Haley grew up on the Cape, graduating from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in 2003. She was pregnant with her second daughter when her husband, Shane Haley, died in 2008. She is studying to be a medical coding and billing clerk and works for CVS stores in Harwich and West Yarmouth.

Sullivan said his daughter isn't the type to draw attention to herself and would not ask for anything.

But the reality is, she has no car, and will not be able to work for some time. About 30 minutes of any type of activity leaves her exhausted, he said.

Despite her horrifying ordeal, the entire family was grateful to have her home for Christmas, he said. "I'm very lucky," Haley said. "I just want to say thank you to all the firefighters who got me out."

On Christmas Eve, some Yarmouth firefighters drove to her mother's home in a firetruck to deliver some toys and new car seats for the girls, she said. "That was very nice."

Copyright 2013 - Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.

Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
K.C. Myers
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