Cal Poly stu­dent awak­ens from in­duced coma: ‘So many prayers had been an­swered’

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY MON­ICA VAUGHAN

Keilani Waxdeck’s fam­ily and friends were thrilled when she re­cently awoke from a med­i­cally in­duced coma and sat up — months ear­lier than ev­ery­one ex­pected.

The mo­ment was a joy­ous vic­tory for the fam­ily mem­bers who have been at her bed­side in the hos­pi­tal for more than three weeks since the Cal Poly stu­dent suf­fered se­vere in­juries in a car crash while on a road trip with friends to view the su­per bloom.

“It’s great news. We’re go­ing in the right di­rec­tion. It felt like so many prayers had been an­swered,” Ni­cole Sanchez, a fam­ily friend, told The Tri­bune in a phone in­ter­view Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

The 20-year-old Bay Area na­tive was air­lifted to Santa Bar­bara Cot­tage Hos­pi­tal on April 6 af­ter the car she was rid­ing in was hit head-on by an on­com­ing ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to the CHP.

Waxdeck and friends Erica Kemp and Mar­i­ana Sil­ver­man were headed out for a photo ses­sion at the Car­rizo Plain when Bak­ers­field res­i­dent Brian Scott Adams, 29, crossed the cen­ter line over the high­way and slammed into them. Adams and his pas­sen­ger, Ash­ley Ni­cole Castillo, 29, were de­clared dead at the scene.

Waxdeck suf­fered a trau­matic brain in­jury and a list of bro­ken bones. Da­m­age has been se­vere, but she lived.

The third-year graphic de­sign stu­dent is a grad­u­ate of Cas­tro Val­ley High School and de­scribed as “a plea­sure.” Af­ter the wreck, her par­ents re­lo­cated from the Bay Area to live in Santa Bar­bara dur­ing the re­cov­ery process, Sanchez said.

“Some­body has been with Keilani ev­ery mo­ment. They take shifts with her,” Sanchez said.

It’s all taken a toll eco­nom­i­cally, and the med­i­cal jour­ney is still far from over. Sanchez said Waxdeck will soon un­der

go her 11th surgery.

“She’s still fac­ing re­ally se­ri­ous is­sues,” Sanchez said.

At her bed­side, fam­ily mem­bers read aloud the many cards, notes and com­ments sent from friends and sup­port­ers.

“The out­pour­ing of love and sup­port, that’s been in­cred­i­ble. The mes­sages com­ing from peo­ple who don’t know her well, or barely known her or don’t know her at all ...” Sanchez said.

Sanchez, who has known Keilani Waxdeck’s mother since they were young girls, started a Go Fund Me page soon of­ter she got news of the ter­ri­fy­ing event.

As of May 2, 935 peo­ple had do­nated $78,926 in 21 days.

“On be­half of the fam­ily, I would like to thank ev­ery­one who has do­nated or sent a pos­i­tive prayer,” Sanchez said.

The friend who was driv­ing the three friends to see the su­per bloom told The Tri­bune that they were equipped for a pic­nic, a photo ses­sion and a hike be­fore tragedy struck.

“We looked like lit­tle fairies ready to go dance in the sun,” Kemp, 20, told The Tri­bune. Kemp suf­fered mi­nor in­juries in the crash, while Sil­ver­man is re­cov­er­ing from a punc­tured lung, frac­tured hip, sprained left arm and a frac­tured right arm.

Waxdeck’s in­juries in­cluded a trau­matic brain in­jury, bro­ken ribs and pelvis, ab­dom­i­nal in­juries and a bro­ken an­kle and foot.

Sup­port­ers are pray­ing that her med­i­cal jour­ney will lead her back to a hike in the wild­flow­ers.

“We’re ask­ing peo­ple to use #Flow­er­sForKeilani,” Sanchez said. “It would be a beau­ti­ful way for her to look back and see all the thoughts and love that came to her.”

Cour­tesy of Erica Kemp

Erica Kemp, left, and Keilani Waxdeck, both graphic de­sign stu­dents, have been friends since their first year at Cal Poly. Both were in­jured in a fa­tal car crash on High­way 166 on April 6. Waxdeck just awoke from a med­i­cally in­duced coma at Cot­tage Hos­pi­tal in Santa Bar­bara.

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