Teen cares for injured mother

FORT PIERCE — Day after day, 17-year-old Shyann Hicks sits at her mom’s bedside at Lawnwood Medical Center. She has done this for the last six months, and there is no end in sight, because her mother was in a major car accident on March 7, and they have no idea when she might be able to come home.

Rea Newkirk was leaving the family’s home in Okeechobee, on her way to a doctor’s appointment in her Lincoln Navigator when the accelerator got stuck and her car flipped seven times.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Six months ago, Rea Newkirk was living a normal life in Okeechobee with her husband and children.

She was thrown out of the driver’s side window and landed on a fence. She was cut almost completely in half, and no longer has a stomach. It broke her ribs; her back; her ribs punctured one of her lungs; she had many facial fractures; her arm was broken; her spleen had to be removed. She had so many things wrong, Shyann can’t even begin to list them all, she said.

She was in surgery for eight hours, and as they were waiting for her to come out of that surgery, a letter came to the house from the car company about a recall on the car for exactly what had just happened, but they said they can’t sue the company because the company had issued a recall. Even though she had already had the accident, and it was too late to help her, apparently, it let the company off the hook. They tried, because they need the help, but they were told because the company had issued a recall, they were just basically out of luck.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
This is a picture of Rea Newkirk’s Lincoln Navigator after the accident that has kept her in the hospital for the last six months.

The accident happened right near their house, and Shyann’s younger sister, who is entering eighth grade this year saw it happen. “She is having a hard time dealing with it, well, we all are,” said Shyann. “Every time we drive by there we see where it happened. The police told us she wouldn’t make it to the hospital, but luckily she did, and she has made it for the past six months, but it has been hard.”

On Aug. 7, Rea was moved back to the ICU. Her blood pressure was really low. On Aug. 9, she had surgery to have a port inserted into her heart. She has four different ports because she is on so many different medications, said Shyann.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
When the accelerator on her car got stuck, Rea Newkirk’s car flipped over seven times, and she was thrown out the window.

Some days Rea is alert and knows what is going on around her, and some days she is not. It depends on her pain level, said Shyann. Some days, she is very quiet. It varies, depending on how she feels.

The whole family is stressed out now because their landlady told them they have to come up with $89,000 or find a new place to live. They have been renting from her for several years, but now she wants to sell the home. So, while they have the situation with Rea, they now need to find a new place to live.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Rea and Shyann spend every day together at Lawnwood Medical Center. “I’d take a bullet for my mom,” said 17-year-old Shyann.

Shyann plans to do her schooling online this year so she can continue to care for her mother. Her step-father has to work, and someone needs to be there for her, she said. Recently, Shyann started a GoFundMe to try to raise some money for her younger sister’s back to school needs. “She is getting older and bigger and has outgrown most of her clothes. That’s really our main priority right now, because school is starting, and she has nothing,” she said. So far, they have raised $40 of the $200 goal. She has the GoFundMe under Rea’s Medical Fundraiser if anyone would like to help. Shyann is monitoring her mom’s Facebook page and will be glad to answer any questions anyone has. She asks for prayers for her mother and their family as they go through this tough situation.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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