Daughter’s actions after rollover wreck make mother proud
Tonganoxie resident Kayla Oelschlaeger simply was looking out for her younger sisters.
Kayla, who is 17, was driving about 7:15 p.m. Thursday east on Kansas Highway 10, about two miles east of Eudora, when the right rear tire on her 1984 Ford Bronco II lost its tread, causing the vehicle to go onto the inside shoulder and roll, according to Kansas Highway Patrol reports.
The wreck sent Kayla to Overland Park Regional Medical Center for treatment while her two passengers, 8-year-old Sarah and 7-year-old Grace, were transported to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
According to the girls' mother, Susan Oelschlaeger, Kayla unbuckled her seatbelt after the accident and went to assist her two younger sisters. The vehicle came to rest on its top, making it more difficult for Kayla to help her siblings.
"I'm real proud of her; she had a clear head, even after it happened," Susan said. "She stayed pretty clear-headed and knew what she needed to do, which was help Sarah."
Kayla said that after the wreck occurred, she was concerned whether she could get Sarah's seatbelt unfastened. But eventually, it came undone. Sarah was in the front passenger seat, while Grace was seated behind Kayla.
Although Sarah was wearing her seatbelt, Kayla was unsure whether Grace, or "Gracie" as she's affectionately known, was in her seatbelt.
"There was no guarantee whether she was in the seatbelt because I didn't have time to check before we left," Kayla said.
But doctors at Children's Mercy Hospital reported bruises on Grace's hips, an indicator that she was wearing a seatbelt. Grace apparently crawled out while Kayla tended to Sarah.
At the scene were several items of clothing from the Bronco because "I basically live in my vehicle," Kayla said with a laugh.
She used some of her clothing to apply pressure to Sarah's arm and hand. She then instructed someone else who stopped at the scene apply pressure to Grace's foot with some of her other clothing.
Kayla was taken to Overland Park Regional Medical Center, where she was treated and released Thursday night, Susan said.
Sarah was released Saturday from Children's Mercy. She returned to the hospital Monday for skin graft procedures on her right arm and hand.
Grace remained at Children's Mercy as of Tuesday. Susan said Grace needed extensive surgery on her left foot, an injury that's required several procedures. She has pins in her toes and will need skin grafting. In addition, she lost muscle in her foot and will need tissue and muscle replacements from her back, Susan said.
"She did get the worst end of it," Susan said. "And she's been running temperatures."
Doctors told Susan that it's possible dirt and germs at the accident site got into the wound, which possibly contributed to the fever. However, Susan said it had improved Monday night.
Susan and Kayla both said they were told that Grace's seatbelt might have played a part in her injury when she got out of it after the accident.
"They seem to think that somewhere along the line the seatbelt has caused her to foot be de-gloved," Kayla said, referring to information she thought she recalled hearing from doctors.
When the accident occurred, an off-duty emergency medical service worker was traveling behind Kayla's Bronco and assisted at the site. The EMS worker, whose first name was Rod, Susan said, later visited Grace and Sarah at the hospital and brought them stuffed animals. Susan said she was appreciative of Rod's actions, and of course, her oldest daughter's actions.
Kayla helped get her sisters to safety, actions that might merit hero status.
When asked whether her family viewed her in that light, Kayla had a humble response.
"Yeah, I guess so," she said.