By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- The survival of a Strasburg High School sophomore seriously injured in a car crash late Saturday is no longer in doubt, her aunt said Tuesday.
But Jymi Rudolph remains in a medically induced coma at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville and faces a long period of rehabilitation, Beth Rudolph told about 60 people who gathered at the American Legion hall to hear an update on her niece's condition.
Beth Rudolph spoke with cautious optimism about her niece's future while acknowledging that she has "got a long road ahead of her" in recovering from injuries that include a broken third lumbar vertebra, broken jaw, several skull fractures, swelling of the brain and bruising of her torso.
"At this point, the fact that death is not an issue means we can deal with anything," said Beth Rudolph, who saw her niece about three hours before she spoke.
"She can still hear, even under all that sedation," Beth Rudolph said.
She said the vertebrae injury was less serious than it sounded, and the brain's condition remained the greatest concern of the medical staff caring for her.
Jymi Rudolph is scheduled to have surgery on her vertebrae by Friday if she is deemed to have made enough progress recovering from the brain injury, Beth Rudolph said.
Rudolph also provided details of the accident that involved four other teens from Strasburg High School, all of whom escaped serious injury and were wearing seat belts.
She said Jymi Rudolph was riding in the middle spot of the back seat of the 2001 Saturn driven by Colby Cooper, 18, when the car went off of Mount Hebron Road and hit a rock around 10:50 p.m.
Beth Rudolph said Jymi Rudolph was thrown forward and then backward by the impact, which jarred the brain against the skull both times.
Cooper was ticketed for reckless driving. Virginia State Police investigating the accident said speed was a factor.
Beth Rudolph said her niece was transported first to Winchester Medical Center, then airlifted to Charlottesville where she could be placed under the care of pediatric neurosurgeons.
Beth Rudolph said doctors have described the vertebrae surgery they want to perform Friday as "no different than removing a splinter."
The long-term effects of the brain injury are unknown for now, Rudolph said, adding that she is confident her niece's fighting spirit will speed her recovery.
"I just think that Jymi is so hard-headed about everything, she is going to be fine," Beth Rudolph said.