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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Medical Miracle: Teen Survives Internal Decapitation After Horrific Crash

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Early on the morning of Sept. 3, Lilliana Demara and some friends were out driving in San Marcos, California, north of San Diego, when they were broadsided by a silver Chevy sedan.

The driver of the sedan fled, leaving the SUV on the side of the road, and the vehicle burst into flames. Demara and her friends survived, but she suffered from atlantooccipital dislocation — internal decapitation.

Her mother, Charmaine Demara, posted hours after the incident seeking any information on the accident.

“If anyone saw this accident or has any info, please contact me,” she posted. “My daughter is in critical condition and we need answers.”

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Thankfully, the 17-year-old is doing very well considering the severity of her injuries. Doctor John Steele at Palomar Hospital in Escondido, where the teen was treated, said her recovery is truly a miracle.

“Breaking a bunch of her ribs, breaking her collar bones, breaking her neck, injuring her spleen, all of these things combined plus the atlantooccipital dislocation, which is the internal decapitation,” he said, according to KFMB-TV. “That’s where you break the neck away from the head. The head is basically holding on by muscles, skin.

“It happens rarely that we are fortunate enough to get such a good outcome. This is generally a devastating injury. I’ve seen three patients thrive after it. Generally speaking, they don’t even make it to the hospital.

“She could communicate with us and she could move everything and that’s just outstanding. Lily has gone through a lot and I have great expectations for her. I’m so happy for her family to get this, miracle — because that’s what it is.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help with medical bills and to ensure Demara can take some time off to be with her daughter. Despite her good prognosis, Lilliana faces many surgeries and lots of physical therapy. By early afternoon Monday, the fundraiser had taken in about $12,000 toward its goal of $30,000.

“She’s so strong,” Demara said. “I feel like we made it through the hard part already so I feel like, we got this. She had internal bleeding and that’s all I knew from the beginning.

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“It was so scary. So scary. But like something inside of me — I feel like I have a special connection with her — I just knew she was going to be OK.”

Demara also had a warning for other drivers.

“This time it wasn’t … it wasn’t our fault,” she said. “It was someone who came and hit her so, you just need to be careful when you’re driving on the road because you’ll never know who’s going to be on the road and get you.”

The hit-and-run driver has still not be identified. Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking