Courtesy of Rachel Stump
Seven months after an accident that left her in a coma, Rachel Stump is once again enrolled in classes.
The first-year in business administration was hit by a car on Aug. 19 near the intersection of North High Street and Chittenden Avenue. The driver had a blood alcohol content of 0.19, more than double the legal limit, according to a report from the Columbus Division of Police.
“(Doctors) have to make sure that my brain, from having brain damage, still works the same and I can still learn the same and everything,” Stump said. “So I’m taking one class to show them that I can do it and that I still function the same.”
Stump said she is still living with her parents in her hometown of Troy, Ohio, but will move back into the dorms on campus this summer.
“I scheduled for summer (classes) because I’m going to make up the semester that I lost, and I’m getting ready to schedule for fall,” Stump said.
The severity of her accident and the trauma to her brain initially led Stump’s doctors to believe she might not live. Now that she has recovered, Stump said she values life a lot more.
“Your relationships, your friendships, your everything, could just be taken from you,” she said. “You learn a lot about life and people that mean a lot to you, to never take that for granted.”
Months of physical therapy was a challenge, Stump said, as her muscles were weakened from being in a coma.
“The one thing I remember is in physical therapy, they told me to jump over this line and my brain told me to do it, I knew how to do it, but I literally had no muscle strength to do it,” Stump said. “My legs wouldn’t jump, it was so weird.”
Stump said she does not remember anything from the accident.
“One day it’s like I’m here, and I woke up the next day and they told me something happened to me, but in my mind I was still doing what I was supposed to be doing,” Stump said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I have to get up and go to class, I have to go pick up my football tickets, take a shower and stuff.'”
Stump and the driver had a university hearing, and Stump said the driver is no longer enrolled at OSU because of the accident. A university spokesperson did not return a request for confirmation of the driver’s enrollment.
“We sat around a table and he wasn’t allowed to say anything to me for legal purposes,” Stump said. “He apologized to me as a general statement. I don’t really know what’s going on with him now.”
The driver did not respond to The Lantern’s request for comment.
Stump was cited for pedestrian in the roadway, according to the police report. She said her parents paid the citation but with no plea of guilt because it could be held against her in a trial, if one were to occur.
The possibility of a trial is unlikely, Stump said, because of a lack of witnesses. The driver plead guilty at the end of February, according to the court document, and the sentence hearing is scheduled for May 2.
Stump said she is excited to move back to campus and move on from the accident.
“I got an apartment on 11th (Avenue) and High (Street) with one of my best friends,” Stump said. “We’re going to move in in August and then I’m just going to go to school as normal and keep going like nothing ever happened.”
Riley Isely, first-year in biochemistry and Stump’s longtime friend, will be living with Stump next year and said she’s looking forward to it.
“I’m just really excited because I never thought it was gonna happen,” Isely said. “In August I thought at this point she would still be in the hospital.”
Isley said every time she talks to Stump about the apartment, it’s a reminder of how much support she’s had and how quickly she’s recovering.
“Rachel’s just she’s one of those people that you wanna be like. She’s so bright, she does so well in school and I have obviously a lot of respect for that,” Isely said. “She takes her studies very seriously but she has this effect on people that they just love her once they meet her.”