5 months after being struck by car, siblings are honored as Mary Bridge Children’s Patient Heroes
Eva and Jordan were struck by a car as it lost control and veered off the roadway near the shore.Dec 11th, 2019
By McKenna Ownby
It was a picturesque Fourth of July in the Pacific Northwest — sunny, warm and perfect for a day at the beach.
Curtis Groth was on his way to visit family near the Olympia waterfront with his two children, Eva, 4, and Jordan, 2. They planned to have a barbecue that day.
But in a matter of seconds, not long after they arrived, their holiday quickly turned into a tragedy. Eva and Jordan were struck by a car as it lost control and veered off the roadway near the shore.
Curtis ran to pull his kids out of the way but couldn’t reach them in time. Both were pinned by the car’s passenger side tire.
People who saw the accident happen rushed to help Curtis lift the car off Eva and Jordan.
“Both of them were lifeless, but they were breathing,” Curtis says. “Eva started to come to first. I held her, then stood her up, and she ran over to my mom while I turned my attention to Jordan. It’s pretty amazing to think about how she was able to do that now, knowing that she had broken legs, a broken pelvis and broken ribs.”
Jordan remained unconscious with life-threatening injuries, including two collapsed lungs, broken ribs and a broken collarbone. Once paramedics arrived, he and his sister were both taken to a nearby hospital, then airlifted to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
Mary Bridge Children’s serves as the state-designated Pediatric Level II Trauma Center for Southwestern Washington.
While Eva was stabilized and treated for her broken bones, Jordan was struggling to maintain oxygen levels and was rushed into surgery.
“The scariest part was waiting to hear about my son because we didn’t know what would happen,” Curtis explains. “Once he was in the care of Mary Bridge Children’s, he was sedated and we weren’t able to talk to him for about 10 days.”
Katelyn Krzmarzick was one of the nurses who provided around-the-clock care for Jordan while he was in the pediatric intensive care unit.
“I took care of Jordan for almost a week straight, from the time he first became stable until the time we were able to take out his breathing tube,” Krzmarzick says. “The first night I was with him, I remember being told that it was pretty touch and go for a while. His injuries certainly could have been fatal.”
Making it through those first few days without knowing whether their youngest child would be OK was excruciating. But Curtis and Dorizel, Jordan and Eva’s mother, knew that Jordan was in the best place he could be, and they felt a sense of comfort from everyone they spoke with. Aside from Jordan’s immediate care team, Curtis credits MultiCare’s chaplain services team for being a big part of his family’s support system.
The chaplain services department — which receives philanthropic support — allows all MultiCare hospitals to be staffed with chaplains who are available to patients and their families 24 hours a day.
“Spending time with them and having them talk us through things was great,” Curtis says. “Having that service available was really, really helpful.”
Eva and Jordan also benefited from spending time with Child Life Services, another donor-supported team that focuses on minimizing stress and anxiety for children while they receive medical care.
After 10 days, Eva was well enough to be discharged as a patient but she didn’t want to leave the hospital until her little brother was well enough to leave, too.
“There was one point where Dorizel and I said, ‘We’re not leaving here without both of them,’” Curtis remembers.
The family wanted to stay together, so Jordan’s care team made it happen.
“We always try our best to make our families feel more comfortable,” Krzmarzick explains. “We want to put that family first. They’re all injured in a way, whether it be emotionally or physically after something like this happens. So, if being together in one room is going to bring them any additional level of comfort, we do what we can to make that possible.”
It meant the world to Curtis and Dorizel to be with Jordan throughout every minute of his recovery. They can’t thank his care team enough for the compassion that was shown not only to both of their kids, but to them as parents as well.
“I have never seen such a group of individuals that cared so much about their work and making sure that two kids, who they didn’t even know, were able to come home with their parents,” Curtis says.
Amazingly, Jordan was discharged after just 18 days — a highly accelerated timeline considering the type of trauma he’d been through. Krzmarzick says it’s stories like his and Eva’s that inspire her to come to work every day.
“We saw this little guy go from fighting for his life, to getting his breathing tube out and then speaking clearly — and not just in English, he spoke Spanish too,” Krzmarzick remembers. “I think that was one of the moments when we all really realized he was going to be OK. As nurses, we feel terrible seeing parents as they watch the person they love the most fight through such awful injuries. But to see their faces when their child speaks again or starts to improve, that’s one of my favorite parts.”
Dorizel is happy to say that with the help of Mary Bridge Children’s, Eva will be turning 5 years old this December and Jordan will turn 3.
They’ve both have made a full recovery, with little to no lasting impacts from any of their injuries. Jordan’s most recent X-ray showed no signs of any broken ribs, collar bone damage or lung damage. Eva will have her next follow-up appointment in January, and while her ribs haven’t fully healed back to their normal state quite yet, Curtis says she’s able to do “everything she used to do and more” without any pain.
“I can only attribute that amazing recovery to the team at Mary Bridge Children’s,” he says.
Krzmarzick adds that it’s also community donors who make stories like Eva and Jordan’s possible.
“I truly believe that Jordan did as well as he did because of the pediatric specialties offered by our doctors and nurses,” Krzmarzick explains. “In order to continue providing that level of care for our community, for kids who are hit by cars or who fall ill to something like cancer, we need that philanthropic support. It’s the pulse that keeps us going in everything we do.”
Lifesaving care and family support at Mary Bridge Children’s is made possible with help from generous community members like you.To support the greatest health needs of children, consider making a donation to the Mary Bridge Children's Foundation.