Sunshine Bryden’s parents told her that she could go rollerskating in Nampa with a friend Monday afternoon, but only after she took her Husky for a walk.
That’s what the 16-year-old high school junior was doing when she — and her dog, Harley — were struck by a motorist as they crossed a Kuna street. The crash happened at about 2:30 p.m. at West Avalon Street and North School Avenue.
“She had looked eastbound and looked westbound,” her mother, Carolyn Bryden, told the Statesman Friday afternoon. “There was a car that stopped for her in the westbound lane. Since the car stopped, she started walking. Then he came through and hit her.”
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash. It has not yet turned over its report to prosecutors, who will review it and decide whether to pursue charges against the 70-year-old driver. He was driving a Ford Focus, Carolyn Bryden said.
Initial reports were that Sunshine was in a marked crosswalk at Avalon and School when the driver hit her. The speed limit on Avalon drops from 35 mph to 25 mph just before that intersection.
Carolyn Bryden said the crash happened about four or five blocks from their home. Witnesses reported it to 911 immediately. One of the responding officers was the father of Sunshine’s friend, so he was able to identify her.
While paramedics rushed Sunshine to the hospital, police picked up her parents and drove them to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
Bryden said police told them that Sunshine was unconscious at the scene but she was “alive and doing well.” At the hospital, they found out that the eldest of their two daughters had a broken neck and two fractures in her left leg.
“The more major injury was to her leg. She had two open fractures on her leg —.one in her tibia and one in her fibula,” her mother said. “They performed emergency surgery on Monday. They put a titanium rod in her leg. That’s the one that’s going to take more time for rehabilitation.”
The crash broke Sunshine’s sixth cervical vertebra of her spine, which is at the base of the neck. She has open wounds on her face and road rash on her forehead.
The teenager is in a lot of pain. But considering everything, she’s doing well.
“I’m grateful that she’s alive,” Carolyn Bryden said. “She’s expected to have a full recovery in four to six weeks.”
Sunshine was released from the hospital on Thursday. She’ll be on bed rest for the next week and a half, then she might be able to return to school.
She’s got more than physical wounds that need healing.
“She has to go through a mental recovery. She’s been replaying the event in her head over and over,” Carolyn Bryden said. “There’s PTSD to consider.”
Sunshine’s dog survived serious injuries, including swelling in the brain and bleeding in her stomach. Harley is recovering at home with her.
“They’re just cuddling each other and loving on each other and healing together,” Carylon Bryden said.
She said the community — family, friends and complete strangers — have provided food and other support to the family. A GoFundMe account was set up by the Brydens to help cover expenses from the crash. By early Friday afternoon, $1,380 had been donated toward the $3,700 goal.