LAWRENCE, Kan. - Sadie Walker, 17, of Lawrence, Kan., loves animals and has a special place in her heart for turtles.
In June, she almost died trying to save a turtle on a Lawrence highway. Her road to recovery has been difficult and at times painful, but through it all she has maintained her love for all things on the earth.
On June 19, 2014, Sadie and her mother, Nancy Walker, were on their way to take one of their two dogs to the groomers.
They saw two turtles on the side of the road and decided to stop for both of them. Sadie got out of the car and successfully put one turtle in the car. But it was the second stop that almost took her life.
"I got out of the car, mom said be really careful there is a hill but I was more focused on the turtle," Sadie said.
She noticed the half of the turtle’s shell was cracked and the turtle was bleeding. At the moment she was unsure if she should take the turtle or leave it. During that time, her mother saw something coming over the hill.
"I saw a car and I thought it was going to stop and then I realized it wasn't going to stop,” Nancy said.
"I went ahead and I grabbed the turtle, and then I heard my mom screaming and I looked over at her and that was the last thing I remember," Sadie said.
As her mother watched in horror, Sadie flew into the air.
"Actually the split second before she was hit was probably the worst because I knew there was nothing I could do about it. My job is to protect her, and it was clear there was nothing I was going to be able to do to stop it and it's just an awful feeling," Nancy said.
The damage was life threatening. Sadie’s pelvis broke in four places. She dislocated both knees and her aorta was torn in two places.
"I was told, usually, if you have one tear you don't make it to the hospital. And if you do, you don't make it out of surgery," Sadie said.
During surgery, doctors lost Sadie’s pulse. Her mother said doctors spent 20 minutes doing CPR to bring her back to life.
Now the Lawrence teen must use a walker to get around, and her mother is trying to figure out when her insurance company can provide an assistant for Sadie during the day so that Nancy can return to work.
"I've never been so busy in my life between doctor’s appointments and phone calls and insurance companies. It's just been crazy busy."
Sadie has also been busy writing thank you notes to people across the country. As Sadie’s story spread, letters of support poured in from strangers wishing her a speedy recovery.
"One person wrote: I just wanted to tell you how much I admire you and encourage you to continue caring like you do. The world needs more people like you. Animals need more people like you," Sadie said.
While the extent of the permanent damage to Sadie’s body is unclear, what is clear is her love for all creatures on earth.