2017-06-16 / Front Page

Stepping toward recovery

Woman learning to walk again after being struck by car
By Melissa Simon

THANKFUL—In May, nearly six months after being hit by a car while riding her bicycle, Linda O’Connor of Simi Valley stopped by Ventura County Fire Station 40 in Moorpark to thank the first responders who helped her: Firefighter/paramedic Adam Price is on the left and Capt. Mark Seastrom on the right. Not pictured is fire engineer Ryan Robb. Photo courtesy of George O’Connor THANKFUL—In May, nearly six months after being hit by a car while riding her bicycle, Linda O’Connor of Simi Valley stopped by Ventura County Fire Station 40 in Moorpark to thank the first responders who helped her: Firefighter/paramedic Adam Price is on the left and Capt. Mark Seastrom on the right. Not pictured is fire engineer Ryan Robb. Photo courtesy of George O’Connor Each attempt to take a step is a struggle for Linda O’Connor, who was struck by a vehicle last year while riding her bike in Moorpark.

Once an avid bicyclist, yoga instructor and hiker, the 62-yearold Simi Valley resident is now learning to walk again after suffering multiple traumatic injuries, including to her brain and spine.

“Not being able to walk has changed everything for me,” O’Connor said. “I was very physically fit before this hit-and-run and now I’m just trying to take a single step. I still can’t believe the shape this has left me in.”


FACING CHARGES—Jasmine Duran, 34, of Moorpark is accused of driving under the influence and seriously injuring Linda O’Connor of Simi Valley, who was riding her bicycle in Moorpark on Dec. 9 when she was struck by Duran’s car. 
Courtesy of VCSO FACING CHARGES—Jasmine Duran, 34, of Moorpark is accused of driving under the influence and seriously injuring Linda O’Connor of Simi Valley, who was riding her bicycle in Moorpark on Dec. 9 when she was struck by Duran’s car. Courtesy of VCSO Around 9:30 a.m. Dec. 9, O’Connor and a friend were riding north on Tierra Rejada Road south of Harvester Street when she was struck from behind by a dark green Toyota Camry. The driver was later identified as Jasmine Duran, 34, of Moorpark.

Police said Duran fled the scene and hid in an orchard in the 13000 block of Broadway Road, where she was found at 3 p.m. that day and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run.

On Jan. 9, Duran pleaded not guilty in Ventura County Superior Court to one felony count each of driving under the influence causing great bodily injury and fleeing the scene of an accident with injury. She also pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving as an addict and denied a special allegation of causing brain injury or paralysis.

Earlier this month Duran posted $100,000 bail and was released from Ventura County Jail pending her preliminary hearing on June 20, according to Ventura County Superior Court records.

O’Connor, who retired in 2015 after 18 years as a teacher with the Simi Valley Unified School District, said she was concerned that Duran had been released.

“I’m worried that she will get off and be able to drive again, which she should never be allowed to do. It’s a scary thought, especially when I see other people riding their bikes,” the Simi resident said. “What she did to me is unbelievable and it forever changed my life.”

‘New normal’

George O’Connor, 62, vividly remembers receiving the Dec. 9 call that his wife had been hit by a vehicle and was being taken to Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks.

“The moment I heard Linda’s friend’s voice on the phone, I knew something was terribly wrong,” he said.

“When I got to Los Robles, I was feeling miserable and they wouldn’t let me see her.”

He later learned that when first responders arrived on scene, his wife was at a level 3 on the Glasgow scale, meaning she was not responding to commands and her eyes would not open.

“For three or four days after the hit-and-run, I for sure thought I was going to lose her. And it didn’t help that doctors didn’t seem very hopeful,” he said. “But it was my love that kept me going and believing that she would make it.”

In February, O’Connor woke up from a coma and learned her spine had been broken in eight places. She also suffered two broken ribs, a punctured and collapsed lung, a shattered left hip and leg, and a broken pelvis.

Doctors were unsure if she’d ever walk, talk or hear again.

But she defied the odds and on March 29, O’Connor came home after months in hospitals in Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth and Northridge. Since then, she has been undergoing physical and occupational therapy.

On May 29, she visited Ventura County Fire Station 40 in Moorpark to thank the first responders who helped save her life: Capt. Mark Seastrom, firefighter/ paramedic Adam Price and fire engineer Ryan Robb.

“I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. They saved my life and I can’t thank them enough,” O’Connor said.

Although his wife is not able to do what she could before, George said her recovery so far has been “nothing short of miraculous.”

“Now we’re trying to find our new normal and take it one day at a time.” George said. “You just never think anything like this can happen to you, until it does. Then it completely changes your life.”

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