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An Amazing Recovery
Miraculous, amazing, incredible - all words used to describe the recovery of Kayla Somoles and Angelica Mormile, the two BGSU students who survived a wrong-way crash March 2 that killed three of their Alpha Xi Delta sorority sisters - Christina Goyette, Rebekah Blakkolb and Sarah Hammond.
Somoles, a junior from Cleveland majoring in education, and Mormile, a sophomore from Garfield Heights majoring in journalism, are back at school and their sorority, months ahead of the schedule given by their doctors. The two women don't remember the crash, but it has forever changed their lives both mentally and physically.
Somoles, who was sitting the backseat on the passenger side, broke every bone in her face from the temple down. Four plates and over 20 screws now hold everything together. She broke her bottom jaw in 10 places and her top jaw in half. Her nose is still broken. She fractured her sacrum, the small bone at the end of the spine; her arm, wrist, two ribs and suffered severe cuts to her left foot and knee. Her first memory is waking up in the hospital attached to a ventilator with her jaw wired shut.
"The minute I woke up from my first surgery I was with it," Somoles said. "I couldn't talk because I had a trach in and my mouth was wired shut. I would write 'where am I? What happened? Where are the girls?' That was my number one question to everyone. Where are the girls? They talked about Angelica, but I would always ask about the other girls. I remember the moment they took me off a heavy drug was the day they told me about them. I didn't cry at the time because I kind of figured subconsciously they were gone. Then it made me think, was I going to die?"
Mormile, who was sitting in the passenger seat, suffered a brain injury that required her to spend the summer taking speech therapy to improve her memory. She broke her lower jaw, her neck, right wrist and right tibia.
"I was in a wheelchair and I had to be transferred everywhere, like the bathroom, and in the shower I had to sit in a chair," Mormile said. "It was very difficult for me - I was a dancer and it was hard not being mobile."
Somoles gets emotional when talking about her recovery and calls being in the hospital one of her proudest moments. "I never gave up and I never had pity for myself."
But she says the first few weeks out of the hospital were difficult as she adjusted to the stares of strangers - stares that she's happy to say no longer happen as often.
"I'm not ashamed of my scars, I just want people to ask me about them instead of stare. I'm not afraid to talk about it. Once I get my nose fixed and my teeth done I'll look just like the old Kayla. I'm proud of my scars from what I've been through."
Both of them say their outlook on life has completely changed and that they no longer take the little things for granted.
"It's crazy to think if I was sitting in a different seat what would have happened," Somoles said. "I had someone watching over me."
"You have to live your life to the fullest, everyone is going to make mistakes, but you have to appreciate the little things in life because things can be taken away from you in an instant," said Mormile. "For Kayla and me that happened, we lost three of our sisters."
On the walls of Alpha Xi Delta there are plaques honoring Goyette, Blakkolb and Hammond, and on the table sits a scrapbook filled with memories.
"That's how we get through it, by talking about them - they're meant to be remembered. You just can't forget about them," Somoles said.
Both marveled at the support they received from all over the country and said they've seen AXD T-shirts on strangers from Cleveland to Columbus.
"Knowing I had so many people behind me through this recovery process was such a big help. I don't know if I could have come this far without it," said Mormile.
A photo of the sorority sisters they lost that morning sits in both their rooms, and Somoles wears three bracelets in remembrance.
"I always know the girls are watching over me and they'd want us back at school."