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Woman now walking despite breaking neck in wreck

Woman now walking despite breaking neck in wreck
Woman now walking despite breaking neck in wreck
Stacy Jo Mattenley, 33, has been recuperating at her mother's home in Marengo following a Jan. 16 single-car crash in which she broke her neck and back. (Photo by Chris Adams)

It’s a miracle Stacy Jo Mattenley is able to walk. In fact, she’s fortunate to be alive.
Mattenley, 33, Corydon, was involved in a single-car crash Jan. 16. The Chevrolet Corsica her cousin, Lisa Vine, was driving slammed into a tree along S.R. 337, a couple of miles north of Corydon, after Vine swerved to miss a deer.
“I don’t remember seeing the deer because I was looking down at my purse,” Mattenley said.
Fortunately, a passerby saw the car, which landed over an embankment, and called 911. “All you could see were the tail lights,” Mattenley said.
Emergency personnel used the “Jaws of Life” to get the women out of the car. Vine was taken to University of Louisville Hospital, and Mattenley was sent to Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services in New Albany.
Vine was quickly released, suffering only a few bumps and bruises. Mattenley, however, wasn’t as fortunate. After doctors discovered she had a broken back and neck, they moved her to U of L Hospital.
“I don’t remember that transfer at all,” she said.
Holes were drilled into her skull, and a halo was installed to hold her head in place. After a few days, she had surgery.
An incision was made from one inch above her hair line to nearly halfway down her back. It took 41 staples to close. Bone from her hip was placed in her neck, and rods and wiring were installed.
Five surgeons told Mattenley they are amazed that she wasn’t injured more seriously, considering the damage to her back and neck.
“They told me they don’t even know how I’m walking,” she said.
Mattenley credited emergency personnel for taking good care of her at the crash scene.
“Had everyone not done their job properly, I definitely would not be walking,” she said.
Neither Mattenley nor Vine were wearing their seat belts. While being restrained may have helped Mattenley, she said Vine likely would have been killed had she been wearing one, because the car caved in directly above the driver’s seat.
Mattenley was released from the hospital on Jan. 25. However, she hasn’t been able to return to her office job at Nye Welding in Corydon because she isn’t supposed to move around much until she heals. She must wear a neck and chest brace for four months and must undergo therapy to correct nerve damage that has left three fingers in each hand and a strip up each arm numb.
After being home for a little while, she realized that staying by herself during the day while her fiancee, Morgan Nye, was at the welding business wasn’t best. Therefore, she decided to stay with her mother, Janet Koralia of Marengo, during the week.
Now she is away from Nye and doesn’t get to see their five-year-old daughter, Mariah Jo, as much as she would like. Their little girl has been staying with Mattenley’s sister, Michelle Spreece.
Fortunately, Spreece lives nearby in Marengo, allowing Mattenley to see her daughter some during the week.
“I do (see her), but it’s sad,” she said, explaining she can’t do much with her.
Mattenley has been able to continue attending classes to become an emergency medical technician. Class officials have been accommodating. It helps that Nye also attends the class.
Both are members of the Corydon Volunteer Fire Dept. (Nye is assistant chief). Mattenley won’t return to the department in the near future but wants to at some point.
“I hope so, I really do,” she said.
As bad as the things have been physically for Mattenley, they have been worse emotionally, she said. Although she knows she’s not paralyzed, her mind still plays tricks on her.
“I wake up at two or three in the morning, and I can’t feel my body because of the way I’ve laid,” she said.
Cards and well-wishes have made things easier for her and her family, said Mattenley, who said someone even sent her daughter a card with a bear.
“I’m thankful for all the cards and flowers and encouragement,” she said.