Dad hopes accident leads to parking safety

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Don Bunch has spent most of his time since noon July 7 at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler at the bedside of his 18-year-old daughter Jessica.

Jessica was seriously injured when a 79-year-old woman driving an SUV and pulling into a handicapped parking spot at the CVS in Canton hit the gas instead of the brake, jumped the curb and slammed into the teen who was standing in front of the Redbox movie rental machine.

The Edgewood girl who was scheduled to report to Marine boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., in September remains in intensive care having undergone surgeries to remove her appendix, gallbladder and part of her bowel, place plates to stabilize her broken pelvis and relieve pressure on her lungs from her crushed rib cage. Her left ankle was also broken and just this week doctors discovered her shoulder was out of socket.

When Jessica got to the hospital July 7, emergency workers gave her only a 10 percent chance of survival, Bunch said. “But she’s strong,” he said. “I wish I was as strong as her.”

A surgery July 20 to repair rib damage went well but left her without movement in her right arm “but it will come back as the muscles heal back together,” Bunch said. “The poor girl has been cut on so much, I don't know what keeps her going. I just don't know how she does it. She has a strong desire to live.”

Her dad has just as much desire to see that no other family has to go through this type of agony. Bunch would like to see it made mandatory that vending machines open to parking areas have some type of protective barrier between them and the parking spaces. Even if it isn’t the law, he said, retailers should insist on it to protect shoppers and walkers.

“My baby girl is mangled up and nearly lost her life because she wanted a movie out of a vending machine that was placed on a sidewalk with any protection,” Bunch said.

Read more in the July 26 issue. To get the Van Zandt News digitally every week, click on the Front page and sign up for the e-edition or home delivery!