MIDLOTHIAN, Texas - A college student from Midlothian who was home for the winter break is still in intensive care after a devastating New Year’s Day car accident.
Rachel Richie suffered multiple broken bones and a traumatic brain injury when the car she was in was hit by a driver who ran a red light. That driver received a ticket.
The Richie family is standing vigil at the 19-year-old’s bedside. They’re grateful for even the smallest signs of progress, like opening her eyes. They say their story serves as a cautionary message for others who travel the same stretch of road.
Rachel, a Heritage High School graduate, and her 18-year-old sister Olivia are just 15 months apart. It’s a tight bond that must now carry them through life’s toughest challenge yet.
Stacie Richie says her daughters were with a friend on their way to pick up food New Year’s Day about 7 p.m. Olivia was driving. Rachel, who was home from Blinn College, was in the backseat.
The girls stopped at a red light at Walnut Grove and even paused before taking off when the light turned green. But police say a Ford F-150 pickup blew through the red light and t-boned the Jeep Wrangler at 53 miles an hour as they turned onto Highway 287. The girls were trapped. Rachel was unconscious.
“They knew the second they had to cut her out that they had to call MEDVAC. And like every single decision that they made helped save her life,” Stacie said. “And I’m so grateful for how fast everybody jumped into action.”
“Rachel has had multiple injuries to not only her spine. Her spine, we were able to fix right away,” said Dr. Bartley Mitchell. “But she also had an injury to her brain. And so that’s the part that’s going to require quite a bit of rehabilitation as we move forward.”
Rachel was last year’s Heritage High homecoming queen and volleyball team captain. Olivia is a senior this year.
Friends are rallying around them and helping them cover mounting medical costs by fundraising with t-shirts of a favorite bible verse.
“The Richies have been just a tremendous part of our Heritage family over the last few years,” said Heritage High School Principal Krista Tipton. “And we are all in Rachel’s corner.”
Police say the intersection where the wreck happened is a trouble spot. Drivers typically fly through on the otherwise open stretch of road. An overpass is going in to help alleviate the issue.