, Muskogee, OK

February 7, 2013

Student determined to overcome injury

By Chesley Oxendine

Times Correspondent

A November ATV accident that fractured Cortni Carman’s pelvis and left her without feeling in her right arm could have been the end of her calendar year.

But Carman turned it into a bump in the road instead.

Though she could have stayed home through Christmas Break and returned in January, the Fort Gibson High freshman — who cheerleads and shows pigs — came back to school a week before the holiday on crutches.

“I was having to teach myself my homework because I was missing so much,” Carman said. “I felt really lonely, and it was boring.”

On top of that, she said, two of her friends injured in the accident were also back at school.

“So I kind of felt like a baby,” Carman said.

Cortni’s mother Tonya Williams said she wasn’t initially comfortable letting her daughter return to school just “a couple of weeks” after the accident.

“I wasn’t sure about sending her back to school so soon, but she wanted to get back and get her work done,” Tonya said. “Making straight A’s is really important to her, and the doctor said she was doing really well, so I said okay.”

Her sister Ashley Carman attributed the freshman’s quick recovery to her determination.

“She had her mind set that she was going to do it. She was going to be in school and with her friends and out of the hospital,” Ashley said. “It’s just amazing she could go back to school so soon.”

Cortni said the accident happened on a Razor ATV. After her friend hit a hole, the bike flipped and rolled several times.

Carman suffered a broken pelvis, a fracture under her eye socket, a concussion and radial palsy in her right arm as a result of the crash.

Emergency responders air-lifted her to St. Frances Hospital in Tulsa, during which Carman said she chatted with an paramedic.

“I remember I was in the helicopter and I was holding this guy’s hand,” she said. “I thought it was my friend’s dad.”

She also remembers the paramedic asking her if she enjoyed riding in a helicopter.

“He was like, ‘How’s this for your first helicopter ride?’” Carman said. “I said I wish I could have been in the helicopter for a different reason.”

Ashley said it was tough finding out about her sister’s accident.

“All I could think was ‘Is she gonna make it?’ I mean, it was horrible. You think your life’s over because of one wreck and it was an accident,” Ashley said. “But when I got there she was as happy as she could be. She wanted to walk, she wanted to eat.”

She said Cortni remained positive throughout the experience with the help of her family.

“She’s a strong individual, and she trusted in God and her family to help her,” Ashley said. “We prayed, and the whole time we were right by her side.”

Cortni said her friends greeted her enthusiastically when she returned to school.

“When I got in the wreck, they were only letting certain people in, but there were so many people out in the waiting room to see me,” she said. “When I got back to school everyone came up to me and asked me how I was doing. I had to tell the story like five different times.”

More than anything, it was faith that pulled Cortni through her ordeal so quickly, her mother said.

“We're real God fearing people. I prayed all the way up there,” Tonya said. “I know that it was God that got her up there. He's the one that fuels her strong willpower. That means everything — if you have God, you've got it.”