When someone close to you gets in an accident, you usually find out because they call you from the scene or someone else calls you to inform you that your loved one has been gravely injured.
That’s not how it happened for Ben DeLine, who was standing in the driveway, watching his wife get home, when her car was crushed by another vehicle in front of his eyes.
It turned out, though, that his presence was providential, as he became the reason she did not die that day. Her car had been thrown into a ditch, a snarl of scrap metal, and her spine had snapped, leaving her internally decapitated.
When he got to her, Lila was bent over the console and wasn’t breathing. “He sat there holding my head and neck the entire time until the paramedics came,” Lila later told WOOD TV.
The driver who had hit her called for help while Ben attended to his wife. That driver was later charged with a moving violation causing serious impairment of a body function.
Lila was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, where Dr. Charles Gibson cared for her. She was the first person he’d seen who’d survived an accident like this.
“Just her getting here is nothing short of a miracle,” he said. “Most people don’t even make it from the scene of the crash with this sort of injury.”
Immediately after the crash, Lila couldn’t move anything but her eyelids. No one had any idea how much mobility she’d get back — if any.
“I took care of her while she was in the ICU and she couldn’t move anything,” Gibson continued. “The best that she could do is blink to commands. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t do anything. She wasn’t even breathing on her own.”
Lila remembers her time in that hospital bed as depressing. She was stuck in her own body, unable to care for herself or even speak to her family.
“I thought that was going to be my life,” she said. “I thought that my life was going to be ventilators and diapers and not being able to communicate.”
“I remember laying there going, ‘Nuh-uh. This isn’t me. I’m not staying in this bed. I’m going to do what I need to do to get out of this situation.'”
So she fought. She went through therapy, trying to get back as much of her movement as possible. Not only did she survive an injury most die from, she began to do most of the things she’d done before the wreck.
“It’s one of the most remarkable things that I’ve ever seen,” Gibson remarked. “I was completely floored.”
“There’s still times where I sit here now and go, ‘My head is screwed on, literally screwed on, and that’s the only thing keeping it on,'” Lila joked — but it’s true, she has pins and plates and a neck brace, and will continue therapy.
But she’s alive and thriving, and that in itself is a miracle.
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