Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We've created it to keep friends and family updated. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most.
On Saturday, February 20, 2016 Laurel Shipton was riding home around 9:30 p.m. with her son and his family, Darryn & Carrie (Byers) Shipton from a family dinner celebrating Darryn & Carrie's middle child Cadyn's 10th birthday. After dropping Stan (Laurel's husband) off at his truck stop for him to go to work, they continued home from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac. Literally one block from Darryn & Carrie's house, a drunk driver pulled out from a bar on the corner of Main St. and Arndt St (Darryn & Carrie's street) and was fishtailing in the road headed toward them. The driver lost control and hit them in the driver door where Darryn was. Carrie was in the front passenger seat of their SUV, Maustyn (5 years) was in his car seat behind Darryn, Laurel was sitting beside Maustyn, and Lakota (11 years) and Cadyn (10 years) were in the rear seat. Being they were so close to home, Laurel had taken her seat belt off moments before the impact. It seems that the impact knocked her off the seat and down on the floor between the seats, with her head wrenched so she couldn't move. Everyone else was wearing seat belts and suffered superficial cuts and bruises. Laurel's neck was broken. All 6 were transported to the Fond du Lac hospital, where it was determined that Laurel needed emergency surgery and was transported by ambulance to Froedtert Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee. Vertebra C6 was damaged. In surgery, early in the morning Sunday morning, the surgeons removed Vertebrae C6 & C7, grinding them out bit by bit, then used that bone to fuse that section between C5 and T1, attaching screws and whatever to not only stabilize that area, but also to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. After that surgery, the surgeon said she will be paralyzed from the waist down, and they're hoping she'll regain enough use of her hands to feed herself. As of now, she can move her arms, but only has feeling in her thumbs. She can't move her legs, though at times she seems to be able to feel tingling in them when touched or massaged. Today, Tuesday, Feb. 23 she is in further surgery to stabilize the back portion of those vertebrae. Today's surgery is done from the back of the neck, stabilizing the "wing" portion of those vertebrae. Sunday's surgery was done from the front. She is keeping good spirits, even joking at times about what she'll do with her wheelchair, and at the same time keeping hopeful that she will be walking "by next April Fool's day!" It is good to keep hopeful, while at the same time accepting reality. Laurel is very aware of what is happening as well as what has happened. She is getting the best of care in the spinal cord injury unit there at Froedtert. She does have pain, of course, and the nurses are very attentive to help control that. Once she is able, she will be going from "acute care" to another level of care, and then to the therapy wing, all in the same unit there at Froedtert, where they will help her recover as much movement as possible, as well as teach her how to function in new ways.
Darryn was able to walk away from the accident, climbing out the driver's window, though his left leg is bruised and sore. Carrie hit her right knee on the dash of the vehicle and is suffering lots of bruising and swelling of that, so she is using crutches at this point. She also gashed her chin, likely on the dash or the door and cut open her lower lip by her chin, which required stitching. She also has an abrasion on her head. The boys all have soreness and bruising, but are pretty traumatized from this whole ordeal...not only about the accident itself, but dealing with the worry and uncertainty of Grandma's condition. Healing will take time.
Stan & Laurel's daughter Andrea isn't able to come to be with the family right now, but hopes to come soon. Corwyn flew in Sunday evening from South Carolina and will be staying until Saturday. He has been spending the nights with Laurel on a cot in her room. Rex drove down from their home Sunday evening and is helping in every way he can, both with comfort care as well as transportation. Seth is a Marine in service in Japan and is trying to get here with help from the Red Cross. Stan has been by Laurel's side since shortly after the accident.
There is still a lot of uncertainty as to who the other driver was. There are so many conflicting reports, and some police error that has complicated the investigation. Carrie said she saw a man get out of the driver seat of the other SUV and run to the west of the accident. There was a girl in the front passenger seat, passed out, when Carrie got out of her vehicle moments after the accident. Now that girl is claiming she was the driver. There is also some thought that there was another girl in the back seat. The bar tender implicated a certain man as being with those two girls at the bar and he kicked them all out, but the video surveillance of the bar at the moment of impact clearly shows that man being in the bar. Time will (hopefully) reveal the facts. The police are searching for any other nearby business video surveillance to hopefully establish the facts.
For now, though, Carrie is extremely busy with all the paperwork, notifying all the insurances involved, to hopefully get sufficient help for the expenses involved. With Stan being by Laurel's side, not trucking, they don't have any income right now. They will likely have to make major changes to their home before Laurel would ever be able to go back. But that will likely be a while from now, what with recovering from these surgeries and the intensive therapy that will follow.
Because so many have inquired, the family has requested that all cards be sent to Darryn & Carrie's address: 39 E. Arndt St., Fond du Lac, WI 54935 rather than to the hospital. Carrie will be updating this website as much as possible to keep you all informed. The family thanks EVERYONE for their love and support of every kind in this nightmare. A GoFundMe site has been started at: www.gofundme.com/k9qdqbf2 (http://www.gofundme.com/k9qdqbf2