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Bremerton man recovering from near-fatal car accident
It was just another Monday morning, Allan Wodenscheck said of his drive to work on Bainbridge Island.
He remembers passing the Masi Shop on Highway 305 heading toward the Agate Pass Bridge. It was Dec. 16, 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, two weeks after a near-fatal collision with a pickup truck driven by a suspected drunken driver, Andrew Page Smith, 32, of Poulsbo.
Smith was driving north, having just crossed the bridge, when his truck collided head-on with Wodenscheck’s white Saturn sedan. Wodenscheck had to be extricated from the vehicle and traffic was at a standstill for more than two hours.
Wodenscheck was taken by ambulance to a helicopter pad at the Bainbridge Island Fire Department on Madison Avenue and was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
He underwent surgery 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 crash 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 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, remembers the terrible details of the morning.
“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. She and Allan’s father, Carl, “made a few emergency calls” and headed for Seattle.
“I called his fiancee 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 Allan’s fiancee, Lynnette Faulkner, and made it to Seattle within a couple of hours.
At the hospital, the surgeon 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 Christmas Eve, he was released from the hospital and is being cared for by his fiancee, a college student.
On New Year’s Eve, Wodenscheck and his fiancee made their first trip out of the house to attend a fundraiser 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 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 has only seen pictures of his car. His older brother went to the state patrol impound yard to see the car and shared photographs via his cell phone.
“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 fiancee about nine months ago. They brought food and made donations to help him out until he can get back working. And Allan got a hug from his grandfather, Ron Fredenburg.
Allan’s mother and her husband, who have a landscaping company, attended Smith’s court appearance Dec. 31. He is charged with felony vehicular assault; the next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 14 at 8:30 a.m.
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 crash after a warrant was issued. State patrol troopers reported smelling intoxicants and sought the warrant.
Smith’s cell phone also was confiscated as evidence. The suspect said he had looked down at his cell phone and then sideswiped a box van before colliding head on with Wodenscheck’s vehicle.
At the gathering, Allan spoke about the crash.
“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 said, “My son is a good kid. He’s always done the right thing. He doesn’t deserve this.”
The family has a supportive network of friends at 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, 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 crash 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.”