Kent teacher bounces back after accident

This year, Feb. 22 wasn't just a normal day for Kent resident Linda Louie.

Highline Community College ESL instructor Linda Louie wears a Halo brace to recover from a neck injury.

Highline Community College ESL instructor Linda Louie wears a Halo brace to recover from a neck injury.

This year, Feb. 22 wasn’t just a normal day for Kent resident Linda Louie.

It marked the one-year anniversary of Louie’s car crash, an accident so severe, Louie spent several months in rehabilitation to try and get back to her normal self. She survived a head-on collision, but broke her ankle, cracked her ribs and suffered a Hangman’s Fracture, a break in the neck caused by force from the crash.

“I feel lucky to be alive and don’t take anything for granted,” Louie said. “Whenever my mind goes back to the accident, I remember how strange the thoughts in my head where as I was crashing. Shock is a crazy and emotional experience.”

Louie was driving home from a vacation in Oregon with her husband and their exchange student when a large truck swerved in front of her. Her husband suffered from a cracked sternum and damage to the nerves in his hands, while the exchange student was rushed to surgery for internal bleeding.

“I was so thankful that we all came out okay in the end,” Louie said.

The doctor’s placed a Halo brace on Louie’s neck and told her she had to wear it for four months. Louie went from a long stay at the hospital to a nursing home for rehabilitation.

“I would say that being in the nursing home was my darkest hour,” Louie said. “I woke up every day in a place I didn’t expect to be in yet and just felt like a caged animal.”

Louie stayed positive by praying and by talking to friends, family, coworkers and students that came to visit her.

“The one thing that helped me get through it all was my family, my coworkers and students,” Louie said. “They encouraged me, brought me flowers and made me feel appreciated.”

Louie is an ESL teacher for adults at Highline Community College at the Kent Library. She has been there for several years and says she feels fulfilled by her job.

“The first time I stepped foot in an ESL classroom, I knew this was my calling,” she said. “I love to help people and I love that moment when you can see them understand something. Their eyes light up, they get so excited and it’s just the best feeling for a teacher when that moment occurs.”

Louie’s students couldn’t wait for her to come back to school. Louie worked hard to recover quickly by eating well, getting in regular exercise and resting.

“I wasn’t about to sit back and let this accident take over my life,” Louie said. “I was going to do everything I could to get better. And it feels good to say I did it.”

It was six months later when Louie felt able to return to work.

“Staff here have been very inspired to hear about her recovery from her class assistants,” said Andrew Wickens, a Kent Library employee. “When she returned to work, I was amazed at how positive she was, and how energized she appeared to be. She does have some difficulty walking, and continues with her recovery, but has come a very long way. Beyond being a very competent teacher, I’d like to say that Linda is a lovely person.”

Louie is thrilled to be back to life as normal.

“I’m so happy to be back in the classroom and to be doing things I love like bike riding,” she said. “It’s amazing how something like this can make you appreciate the little daily things in life that we take for granted.”

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