Natasha Urkow didn’t begin her life until she was thrown from a vehicle and declared legally dead, the 19-year-old said yesterday.
Now, one year after she jumped in a car with an accused impaired driver, the former cheerleader-turned quadraplegic says she’s living a life with purpose.
“I was this superficial, selfish person,” she said. “I wouldn’t change anything about that night if I could.”
Six intoxicated teenagers climbed in the Nissan Versa on Oct. 29, 2008, Urkow said.
When the car smashed into a median on Whitemud Drive near Terwillegar Drive, Urkow wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, and was thrown from the vehicle.
“I landed on the guardrail,” she said. “They had to resuscitate me, because I was declared legally dead.”
The then 18-year-old’s neck and back were broken in 10 places.
Jamie Dong, 19, was charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm, and is before the courts.
After four months in intensive care, another seven at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and Urkow is still in a wheelchair, but home.
The determined teen is preparing for a mid-month trip to Virginia, in hopes costly experimental molecular magnetic energy treatment will help her recover.
“I 100 per cent believe I will walk again, and my family does too,” she said.
To mark the anniversary of the accident last week, friends threw a fundraiser and netted nearly $8,000, though costs for her impending trip will be over double the amount raised.
Urkow hopes others remember her struggle before getting behind the wheel.
“People don’t listen to these kinds of stories, and they should,” she said. “Please, just think.”
To donate funds to help with Urkow’s recovery, call 780-266-0488.