Here is the link to the online article: http://www.dailyrecord.us/Story.aspx?id=4866&date=5%2f14%2f2012
Front Page - Monday, May 14, 2012
Parsley a living miracle for many
Elizabeth Parsley and two of her best friends came to Little Rock on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, to babysit a nephew of one of the friends as his parents attended Arkansas’ football game that evening at War Memorial Stadium. The Razorbacks took care of business against Louisiana-Monroe in a 31-7 victory. The kid’s parents returned and the girls headed back to their Conway homes. All seemed pretty normal right up until normal took a very long leave of absence.
At about 1 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, the driver of an SUV lost control of the vehicle near the Mayflower exit on Interstate 40 about eight miles from Conway. The vehicle exited the road and flipped an estimated four or five times.
That stretch of I-40 is often useless for cell phone users. However, traveling about two vehicles behind the accident was a registered nurse, who immediately pulled over to help. Even more amazing, about two vehicles in front was a Conway EMS vehicle and the driver just happened to see the accident take place in his rearview mirror.
One of Parsley’s friends was thrown completely out of the SUV. The two friends would be treated and released at Conway Regional Medical Center.
Parsley had been wearing her seatbelt, but there was a malfunction of some kind as she was found, unconscious, hanging halfway out of the vehicle, with the seat belt holding her half-hazardly.
Within minutes, paramedics were able to apply oxygen to Parsley. A Med-Evac helicopter was called to transport her to Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock. It was a short flight, but Parsley was not expected to make it. In fact, a chaplain was called to be waiting at the hospital, expecting to have to inform family members of a death.
A mother of one of the others involved in the accident called Elizabeth’s mother, Michelle, shortly after the accident. Michelle and her husband, Bill, part of Team Parsley with Re/Max of Conway, which includes Elizabeth and Jan Barrow, headed to the Conway hospital, not knowing the whereabouts or condition of their daughter.
“The mom was crying and just told me that it was really bad,” Michelle recalled. “Elizabeth wasn’t there when we got there, so we were told to go to Little Rock, but we didn’t know where. On the way we came across the wreck but I wouldn’t look.”
The Parsleys arrived at Baptist Health. Confusion reigned as another female accident victim had also been brought in. That girl had died. The minister quickly met with the Parsleys.
Doctors explained that Elizabeth had suffered heavy trauma.
Barrow said that doctors explained that Elizabeth had what was akin to Shaken Baby Syndrome during the flipping of the vehicle. She also suffered a large gash on the back of her head, believed to have been caused by a microwave oven that one of the girls had in the back of the SUV. That gash required 18 stitches.
“They told us to expect permanent brain damage,” Michelle said. “At one point they told us it didn’t look good and I remember falling on the floor.”
Hundreds of friends – Family Life Bible Church members, other Realtors and people that Team Parsley had sold houses to – gathered at Baptist Health. Michelle had been a Realtor in Faulkner County for 24 years, but she was originally from Oklahoma and her husband was from Texas. “We don’t have other family in Conway,” Michelle said.
Across the country, Elizabeth’s longtime boyfriend, Jacob Wood, had arrived on Saturday night following a 19-hour drive to a hunting trip in Wyoming. The very next morning he was successful in killing a mule deer with his bow. He was approaching camp when a man came running across the grounds yelling Jacob’s name.
“He said I had a phone call,” Jacob said. “The problem was that at that location they had some type of satellite phone that only worked about every 18 minutes. I drove down the mountain and got in touch with Michelle. She said they didn’t think (Elizabeth) was going to make it.”
A friend found a flight to Little Rock out of Billings, Mont. As soon as they crossed into Montana, a state trooper pulled over Jacob’s friend and issued a ticket.
“We explained that I had to catch this flight, but he was taking forever,” Jacob said.
Jacob still had blood on his arms from the mule deer, and coupled with the fact he was wearing camouflage caused some strange looks at the airport. A lady at the front desk told him he had to at least wash up before getting on the plane.
Jacob had seen accident victims often during his work at UAMS. He wasn’t prepared to see Elizabeth in her condition when he finally arrived.
“I was speechless,” he said. “It was hard to fathom that it was Elizabeth laying there and not some other patient.”
Elizabeth was put into a self-induced coma, but when doctors tried to bring her out of it, it initially failed. She turned 24 during her 11-day coma.
Barrow had worked around Michelle Parsley since 1993 and knew the family as well as anyone.
“We try not to question the Lord, but we do,” Barrow said. “You say, here is Elizabeth, she’s a good girl, she attends church, she loves her mom and dad, she’s a good moral person and she’s a good Christian girl. Why does stuff like this happen to her? But then we started reading the blogs.”
And oh those blogs. A sorority sister of Elizabeth’s from the University of Central Arkansas (Elizabeth graduated from there in 2009), Heather Fite, began a daily blog – prayingforliz.blogspot.com – that kept everyone updated on Elizabeth’s condition.
The blog grew like no one could have imagined, reaching people in other continents. One temple in Europe advised that it had observed a moment of silence for Elizabeth.
Elizabeth eventually came out of the coma, but she had some memory loss and multiple physical problems. She would spend five weeks in rehab, seven weeks in all at Baptist Health.
Rachel Temple, Elizabeth’s older sister, and Wood, stayed with her every day. Temple quit her job to be with her sister. Wood slept in a chair most nights, one he called “most uncomfortable.” When she was moved to another room, there was an adjoining room with a couch, but that, he said, was like sleeping on two-by-fours, so he made a bed, of sorts, on the floor.
During her recovery, Michelle said her daughter would say some very off-the-wall things. She was shown flash cards. When she was shown a picture of Martin Luther King and asked who it was, Elizabeth answered, “I have a dream,” When she was asked who the president was, she named the president of her sorority at UCA.
Elizabeth was sent home on Halloween Day, 2010, in a black cat costume that nurses at Baptist got her.
Recovery was slow. Michelle said that initially her daughter slept most of the time. Elizabeth was in a wheelchair for several weeks. She didn’t want to see people. Her short-term memory loss caused a lack of confidence.
Slowly, but surely, she began to improve. By January 2011, Elizabeth began returning to the office with her mother, even if just for an hour a day or two a week. She’s now back full-time.
Elizabeth doesn’t remember anything from about two months prior to the accident and only remembers her last couple of days at Baptist Health. She did, however, remember her beloved dog, Bella Grace, which she got during her senior year of high school.
“Apparently, I bought a couch for my house earlier that day (of the accident),” Elizabeth laughed, who added that she couldn’t name her low point because she simply couldn’t remember.
“A couple of days before I left it was like everything started clicking,” she said. “I’m still friends with the people who were my therapists in the hospital. We still keep in touch. My sister, physical therapist and occupational therapist from the hospital, we get together about once every two months and catch up. I didn’t think about not being able to make it. I didn’t think there was any choice.”
Team Parsley closed $21.5 million in sales in 2010, thanks in large to Barrow, the team’s officer manager/broker, who held things together. “I would have closed the business had it not been for (Barrow),” Michelle Parsley said.
Bill Parsley added, “Daddies cry too. I will never, ever let a day go by without thanking the Lord for my family and what He has blessed me with.”
“We’re not lucky, we’re blessed,” added Michelle. “She’s blessed.”
Fite’s blog reached people that sent in stories from all over, something Barrow said made everyone realize why God had chosen Elizabeth for the ordeal.
“We saw where people said, 'You know, I see this miracle and it’s made me have a closer relationship with the Lord,’” Barrow said. “The witness that she was then and that she was during the accident and that she has been since then, I think it’s just answered our questions. She’s had such an impact on so many people.
“Even Michelle will tell you that if one person got saved because of this accident it was worth it. And that’s hard for a mom to say. To know that somebody’s soul didn’t go to Hell and was saved for eternity, it was worth it.”
Elizabeth’s favorite Bible verse became Second Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. That scripture was put on T-shirts and armbands that were worn in her honor by a large group during the 5k run at the Little Rock Marathon. The shirts also read, “Running for Liz, Praying for Liz.”
“My faith was strong, now it’s just extra strong,” Elizabeth said. “It really just amazes me with all of the support. I’m just completely floored. I don’t know how to take it all in because it’s just incredible.”
The anniversary of the accident was a difficult time in September, but even that was followed with good news as Rachel informed her little sister that she would be having a baby. Mason Temple was born on April 22, 2012. “God is incredible,” Elizabeth said.
Michelle’s plan for her marketing major daughter is to take over Team Parsley at some point.
“I love the business side of things,” Elizabeth said. “I took a leap of faith with this job, and it’s been great.”
Michelle called her youngest daughter her miracle. Barrow, fighting back tears, agreed.
“Now, if we can just keep her from burning popcorn in the microwave,” Barrow said.