The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

September 8, 2013

Lacy Jones recounts wreck that took her arm

'A God thing'

By Karen Middleton
news@athensnews-courier.com

— You might think it is odd to call the loss of an arm “a God thing.” That is, until you meet Lacy Jones.

The 32-year-old mother of three is adjusting to the loss of her left arm in a horrific June 13 wreck north of Birmingham. Some of her biggest adjustments are coming in looks of curiosity and pity she receives for her prosthetic limb and the feeling that someone would think she is seeking notoriety for her plight.

“I don’t want people to think I’m milking this situation or I don’t want them to get tired of hearing about this,” said Lacy.

She was asked to tell her story to her church family at Lindsay Lane Baptist because of her strong testament of faith. She says she can see God’s hand in every moment of that fateful day.

“From the time we got into the car in the driveway that morning, it was God that made things happen,” she said. “It’s hard for people with no faith at all to believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. He has a purpose. It’s not because of no reason at all.”

Lacy doesn’t suggest that God intended for her to be so grievously injured. Her message is that God was there to save both her life and that of her 12-year-old daughter, Emma, who was a passenger that day.

The journey begins

Their purpose for traveling to Birmingham was to put Emma on a flight to Dallas, Texas, to her sister’s home so she could go to the beach with them.

“When we left that morning Emma went to get into the back seat and I asked her why she didn’t want to ride in the front,” said Lacy. “She said she had to do something so she needed to sit in the back seat. She was seated directly behind me.”

Lacy said it was an uneventful drive down Interstate 65 until she entered the portion of the road that widens from two lanes to three at Exit 282.

“I was in the middle lane and an 18-wheeler was beside me in the right lane,” she said. “He pulled ahead and swerved into the middle lane ahead of me, but he cut me off.”

Lacy said when it was apparent the back of the truck’s trailer was going to clip the front of her SUV, she swerved to the right.

“I swerved to the right to miss him and I barely tipped the end, but then I went a little off the right shoulder,” she said. “I over-corrected and went across all three lanes and hit the middle barrier at an angle.”

Once she hit the concrete barrier her vehicle went airborne, she said.

“I heard Emma scream, ‘Mommy, what’s happening?’” she said. “I reached back and put my arms around her shoulders. People traveling in the northbound lanes said I did one complete flip in the air, came down and bounced (in the northbound lanes), flipped in the air and flipped a total of 10 times.”

Lacy said that immediately upon her vehicle coming to rest a man and his son were there to open her door.

“After the glass had busted out of my driver’s side window, my arm apparently became pinned between the car and the road,” she said. “I never felt any pain when we landed some 200 yards from where we started.”

Lacy says the first ‘God thing” was her daughter opting to sit in the back seat when they began their journey and the second “God thing” was the man and his son who got to her immediately.

“Part of my left arm was gone but my hand was still attached by some tendons and lay in the passenger seat beside me,” said Lacy. “Emma said, ‘Mom, your arm!’ The man and wife opened my door and the father and son were both Eagle Scouts and knew what to do. They both stripped off their shirts and tied off my arm. If they hadn’t gotten to me when they did, I would have bled out.”

Lacy said after laying her on the roadside, the son stayed with her while his parents opened the back door to get her daughter out.

“Emma was wedged in between the back and front seats in the middle,” she said. 

She called Emma’s position another “God thing” because it placed her out of danger from impact to the sides of the car.

“Usually, seat belts don’t stretch that far; they lock up on impact,” she said. “But these stretched so she could land in the middle. She was still belted and just got some cuts on her from glass. She had stitches on her knees and down her legs and on her stomach.”

Lacy said their rescuers kept asking them questions so they wouldn’t go into shock.

“When I knew Emma was all right, I felt the world go black,” she said.

Fortunately, before Lacy lost consciousness, one of the questions she answered was who to call. She gave the name of her husband, Jeb Jones, and his phone number at his place of employment, West Side Pharmacy, where he is a pharmacist.

The decision

“They took Emma to Children’s Hospital by ambulance and me by LifeFlight helicopter to UAB,” she said. “I just remember waking up in the hospital. When I had reached over in the seat and grabbed my hand, there was no pain. When I woke up my arm was all bandaged, but I could see that my hand was still attached.

“I will have to say that my team of four trauma surgeons were wonderful,” she said. “I had a total of four surgeries. The first two surgeries were to clean debris out of my arm. When I woke up from my second surgery I was told by my husband and parents that if the surgeons tried to save my arm I would have chronic pain and there was a high risk of infection.

“My Mom and Dad, Reggie and Terri Lamons of Birmingham, were there and all four surgeons when I woke up, so I knew that was never a good sign. My husband said, ‘Lacy, they’ve done the best they can do. They’re going to have to take it.’ I had about a 10-minute meltdown.

“My Dad, who has always had a way with words, said, ‘You know, if there was anything in the world we could do we would do it, but there’s not. If anyone is strong enough to handle this, it’s you.’ Then I said, ‘Let’s get on with it.”

The next day, in her third surgery, surgeons removed Lacy’s left arm from above the elbow. In the fourth surgery the next day, surgeons shortened the bone and created flaps over the end. She said Emma spent just one day in Children’s Hospital before catching a flight to Dallas to be with her sister. Relatives kept her other two daughters.

Recovery

“Other than having to explain to the kids, not a lot is different,” she said. “A lot of people are shocked at my mental state. God has given me amazing clarity. I don’t know the reason this happened, but someday I will. I know it has made my family and faith stronger and given me strength to share my story.”

Lacy said when she returned home from the hospital, members of her church had been to her home and cleaned it and stocked her freezer with days of prepared meals.

“I believe people around the world praying for me was the reason I healed so quickly,” she said. “My surgeon is amazed, but the power of prayer is amazing.”

She has been fitted with a prosthesis.

Fortunately, Lacy is right-handed, but she said one thing she hasn’t adapted to is being able to pull her daughters’ hair into pony tales. She said Emma has taken over as the hairdresser of the family.

“She also helps the little ones pull on their tights for dance class,” she said. “I have three daughters that are watching every move I make. It doesn’t matter what happens in life, you pick up and move on.”

She is in physical therapy twice a week and is driving a car again — even on the interstate. She just keeps her distance from 18-wheelers. The truck that cut her off and caused the accident didn’t stop, and although all six lanes of traffic came to a dead halt, no one could identify the truck.

“I would like to think he didn’t know,” she said. “I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s just human nature to think that he didn’t know or he would have stopped.”