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Accident victim improving at home after Dec. 16 wreck

By LESLIE KELLY | For the Independent

It was just another Monday morning, said Burley native Allan Wodenscheck, of Dec. 16 and his drive to work on Bainbridge Island. He remembers passing the Masi Shop along Highway 305 heading toward the Agate Pass Bridge. It was sometime between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m.

The next thing he remembers is trying to get out of his car and a man holding him and telling him not to move — that the paramedics were on their way.

Wodenscheck, 24, is recovering at home in Bremerton just two weeks after a near-fatal accident when he was hit almost head-on by a suspected drunk driver, just feet from the Agate Pass Bridge.

He was heading south and the other driver, Andrew Page Smith, 32, of Poulsbo, was heading north having just crossed the bridge when he hit Wodenscheck’s white Saturn sedan (which afterward was barely recognizable and sustained heavy damage to the left front driver's side). Wodenscheck had to be cut out of the vehicle and traffic was at a standstill for more than two hours.

The Bremerton man was taken by ambulance to a helicopter pad at the Bainbridge Island firehouse on Madison Avenue where he was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

He underwent surgery within hours to repair a tendon in his left knee and a shattered femur in his left leg. He also has a broken right ankle and a broken collarbone.

He doesn't remember anything from just moments after the accident until the following day.

“I remember passing the Masi Shop, and then I remember someone running over to the car asking, 'Are you OK?’” Wodenscheck said. “I remember parts of being cut out of the car, and being carried out of it. The next thing I remember is it being Tuesday morning and being in the hospital.”

He doesn't have any memories of the car coming toward him, the impact, or the helicopter ride to the hospital. He considers himself lucky to be alive.

His mother, on the other hand, recalls the morning in terror.

“The hospital called me and said Allan had been in an accident and was at Harborview,” Shelly Wodenscheck said. “They needed permission to put a breathing tube down him.”

She gave permission and she and his father, Carl, “made a few emergency calls” and headed for Seattle.

“I called his fiancée and my parents,” Shelly said. “And I called our church, to ask that Allan be put on the prayer chain.”

They drove to Bremerton and picked up his fiancée, Lynnette Faulkner, and made it to Seattle within a couple of hours.

His mother said that the hospital had initially told her that he had some broken bones and that they were going to do a CAT Scan to see if there were any internal injuries to his stomach or head. At the hospital, the surgeon spoke to them and told them Allan was doing well considering his injuries and would be in intensive care, post surgery. He remained there several days and was then moved to a regular room in satisfactory condition.

On Dec. 24, he was released from the hospital and is being cared for by his fiancée who is a college student.

On New Year’s Eve, Wodenscheck and his fiancée made their first trip out of the house to attend a fundraising event held for him at the Burley Community Club. Friends, family and co-workers at AGS Stainless Inc., on Bainbridge Island, are raising money to help Wodenscheck with the costs of his recovery. He has no medical insurance and he will be in a wheelchair for at least six weeks and unable to work for several months. He needs help covering his rent and bills until he can return to work.

“I’m good, considering everything,” Wodenscheck said at the event. "I have my right arm in a sling and I can't stand on either leg, and have to use a wheelchair. But I’ve got one good arm."

Allan hasn’t yet seen his car, although he saw pictures of it while at the hospital. His older brother went to the Washington State Patrol impound yard to see the car and shared photographs via his cellphone.

“He hasn't really wanted to see it,” his mother said. “He’s been having vision problems and some vertigo, so he can't really look at the newspaper articles about the accident or read the Web. I’m sure in time, he will.”

At the gathering on New Year's Eve, Allan was greeted by members of the Burley community where he grew up. He is a 2008 graduate of the Burley Christian School. Several of his co-workers came, including the friend who introduced Allan to his fiancée about nine months ago. They brought food and made donations to help him out until he can get back working. And Allan got a special hug from his grandfather, Ron Fredenburg.

Allan’s mother and her husband, who have a landscaping company, attended a court hearing Dec. 31 for the man who caused the accident. He is charged with felony vehicular assault and while the hearing Dec. 31 was “stricken” (no new negotiations or charges were heard) the next hearing was set for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 14.

The investigation is on-going awaiting results of blood alcohol tests. Smith refused to take a breath test at the scene, but a blood draw was taken about 11 a.m. the morning of the accident after a warrant was issued. State troopers smelled intoxicants and sought the warrant.

Smith’s cellphone also was confiscated. The suspect said he had looked down at his cellphone and then sideswiped a box van before colliding head-on with Wodenscheck’s vehicle.

At the gathering, Allan spoke about the accident.

“I’m over being mad,” he said. “But I just can't understand why someone would take a risk like that. Driving under the influence is just bad news.”

Allan’s father is still having a hard time dealing with the idea that someone can be driving drunk at 7:30 on a Monday morning.

“My son is a good kid,” he said. “He’s always done the right thing. He doesn’t deserve this.”

The family has a strong faith and a supportive network of friends at the Burley Community Church and they have faith that all things happen for a reason.

Allan’s family has hired an attorney to represent him and there is a possibility that he may qualify for help from the Crime Victims Fund. His mother said the attorney is handling all the bills and she doesn't know the amount that is owed to the hospital.

To help Wodenscheck out with his recovery, donations can be mailed to 5307 State Highway 303, No. 192, Bremerton, WA, 98311. A co-worker said if every driver who was stopped in the traffic the day of the accident would mail Allan $5, he'd be set for some time to come. They also need food, and food and litter for their cats.

Even though there are hard times ahead as Allan regains his ability to walk, his mother is focused on other things — that her son is alive and recovering.

Allan’s mother thinks that the airbags and the seatbelt helped save her son.

“And the grace of God,” she said. “When you look at that car, there’s just no way anybody should have made it out of there. If there’s a lesson to be learned in all this it’s to be happy for what you’ve got because it may be gone tomorrow.”

 

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