On Saturday, June first, Sandy and Jim Atkinson, lifetime residents of Shell Lake, were on their way to the Bashaw Valley Greenhouse to get a few plants for Sandy's beloved pig planter.
Sandy, age 74, was driving, and her husband, eighty-four-year-old Jim was the passenger. This was to be a pleasant day out for Jimmy, seeing he's suffering from dementia.
It was while they were waiting for an opening in the heavy traffic so they could turn into the greenhouse when they were hit from behind.
Steven Becker, of Ellsworth, WI was traveling northbound on Highway 63 and struck the Atkinson's vehicle from the rear, causing the Atkinson vehicle to enter the ditch.
Sandy and Jimmy both suffered serious injuries; he badly bruised and complaining of pain in his neck, Sandy was flown out to Luther Mayo in Eau Claire and diagnosed with a brain bleed and a severe concussion.
"The amazing thing," says daughter Kristen, "is that so many people called 911 and stopped to pray for them. We were so grateful for the prayers and for everyone who stopped including the first responders and the ambulance EMTs."
The Atkinson's vehicle sustained disabling injuries, and according to the crash report, the impact crushed the entire rear section of their vehicle, and neither of the airbags deployed.
Jimmy was treated and released and is back in their home, not understanding where his wife of fifty-seven years is; they've never been separated before this. His four children are taking turns staying with him.
Sandy has recently been transferred to a near-by care and rehab facility making progress, but very slowly. The family has been told there might be lasting effects, and only time will tell.
Sandy worries about her husband condition, seeing this is the longest they've ever been apart. Jim was taken to his wife's facility yesterday to visit, and they were the better for it.
This tragic event that will change this family forever is a result of inattentive driving by the man who hit them. He, on the other hand, did not suffer any injuries.