Kevin DesPlanques was already waiting in the hospital when the air ambulance arrived with his daughter Sierra on August 1. She had been in a truck accident near Woodward, and her heart sank as she saw the helicopter heading for the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. .
“When I first saw Sierra that day, I had doubts about whether she was going to make it,” Kevin said Thursday. “She had open gashes on her scalp and on the side of her head, large gashes on her arms and legs. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever seen – seeing her in a coma with all those open wounds.
Sierra DesPlanques was driving a truck loaded with candy corn in Fort Dodge when she crashed into the median near Woodward. A longtime salesperson at the Ames candy corn stand at the corner of 13th Street and Grand Avenue, she hoped to earn money from her own stand to help pay for her college education this fall. Now 22, Sierra has been helping out at the Ames family stand since she was 14.
The wreckage left him with three skull fractures, including one at the base of the skull, a fractured jaw, multiple facial fractures and several lacerations.
She was in a coma, partly due to her injuries and partly induced by doctors to keep her comfortable and still as they assessed her brain damage, her father said Aug. 4.
The days following the accident offered successes and disappointments.
Surgery successfully repaired his broken jaw.
The bleeding in the brain plateaued, which was great news.
After:Longtime Ames sweet corn vendor Sierra DesPlanques is in a coma after an accident on Monday
On August 3, Sierra opened her eyes for a little while when her sedation subsided and her brain swelling went down.
On August 4, an MRI showed more brain damage than expected, raising concerns about hearing, vision and dexterity.
The next day, she woke up for a few moments, nodded in response to a question from her dad and gave him a small smile before going back to sleep.
That night, Sierra lay awake for several minutes while her mother, Dana Shinn, read aloud to her. She squeezed her mother’s hand indicating that she liked it.
On August 6, doctors removed her from sedation but continued to treat her pain.
On August 8, she sat down on a chair. Two days later, she went for a walk and was released to a regular intensive care room.
Sierra showed reduced motor skills, but her being alive was key to family and friends.
Doctors removed Sierra’s tracheal tube on August 17, and she was finally able to speak with her family.
“The progress she’s made is pretty miraculous,” Kevin DesPlanques said Thursday as he prepared to wrap up the summer candy corn stand at Ames. His last day of summer is Saturday.
On Wednesday, Sierra was airlifted to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, where she will continue her recovery. The Neurorehabilitation and Research Hospital specializes in the rehabilitation of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.
“Craig Hospital is literally the best brain injury facility in the country. They only treat brain and spinal cord injuries,” said Kevin DesPlanques.
He plans to be there on Monday when she undergoes scalp surgery. He lives in Durango, Colorado, and grew up in Johnston, Iowa.
In the days and weeks following the Sierra accident, DesPlanques said he was overwhelmed by the generosity, support and prayers shared by residents of the Ames community and the greater central area of the city. ‘Iowa.
Kevin received over $2,600 at the Ames candy corn stand the weekend after the accident.
A GoFundMe account set up by Sierra’s brother, Keenan DesPlanques, has raised nearly $12,000 toward a goal of $20,000.
“All we know is that this is a life changing accident. She has a very long road to recovery and will be unable to support herself for some time,” wrote Keenan on the profile page.
In the week after Sierra’s accident, Kevin wondered if he would continue to sell sweet corn in the future. But this week his optimism was back and he mentioned his intention to return to Ames next summer.
And he included Sierra in those plans.
Ronna Faaborg covers business and the arts for the Ames Tribune. Contact her at [email protected]