LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Heather Dean survived a crash that killed her best friend.
An alleged drunk driver, going the wrong way on the 710 Freeway, hit her car head-on November 2, 2012.
“I try not to think about it,” says Dean, “because I remember the whole accident.”
Rescue workers had to use the jaws of life to extricate Dean from the car. Dean, now 27, was in the hospital for 34 days, 19 of those in the ICU.
Dean’s best friend, her passenger Trisha Cade, was killed that evening.
“Her hands were up in the air, her head was twisted to the side. She was completely gone,” Dean tells CBS2’s Andrea Fujii.
Dean was injured severely in the crash. Her right femur shattered. One leg is now two-and-a-half inches shorter than the other. She is not able to stand for longer than a couple of minutes at a time.
After spending thousands of dollars on hospital stays and surgeries, Dean has one operation left — surgery to lengthen the shortened leg.
She says insurance will only cover $1,000 of the estimated $15,000 procedure.
“The SUV that hit me had no insurance,” Dean explains, “So I’m just trying to pull money together so I can go ahead and do this surgery.”
Dean has set up an online donation fund — she’s raised $695 and knows she has a long way to go.
But she tells Fujii she is looking forward to resuming a normal life.
“To know that I’m that close makes me push that much harder,” says Dean.
Fujii reports that 33-year-old Derrick Armstrong — the man accused in the deadly crash — has plead not guilty to DUI and vehicular manslaughter charges. His next court date is at the end of this month.
For more about Dean’s fundraising efforts, click here.