Jessica’s Story: Thriving After a Vicious Attack

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“And I just kept repeating the word no, because I thought that was going to be when I died.”
On September 20, 2018, Jessica Roberts’s husband attacked her. She was lured into the garage of the family residence and he was hiding behind the door, waiting for her. 

“He asked me for one last hug, and I thought that was going to be my last moments,” Jessica remembers. “But he had seen my phone and had ran for my phone. So, I ran for the door. He had grabbed me from behind and had choked me until I passed out, and then he stabbed me. Before I even opened my eyes, I couldn't remember what had happened or why I was there, and something was telling me to get up. I was able to make it to my car and I had backed out rather quickly.”

Jessica notice lights shining toward her car, and since she lived on a very dark road and did not know where the lights were coming from, she slammed on her brakes. “In my mirror came into focus his car, and it was him I almost hit. I put it in drive and started driving through the yards trying to get away from him,” Jessica says. 

Her husband started chasing her and she was able to make it to a gas station. “I jumped out of the car, I didn't even put it in park. I just jumped out and he had driven around the pumps and I ran to the front of the car because I was going to try to make it into the gas station,” Jessica says. “But I had actually blocked the door, so I couldn't make it.”

Jessica’s husband drove toward her and tried to hit her but crashed into the front of her car. She tried to get into someone else’s car to get away from him. But when that person got out of the car, her husband decided to leave and drove away. 

After 911 was called, Jessica was taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center where her condition was quickly assessed. She was flown via CareFlight Air and Mobile Services to Miami Valley Hospital’s Level I Trauma Center.

“We were called to Springfield Regional Hospital,” says Mike Lawson, BSN, RN, CEN, EMT-P, flight nurse with CareFlight. “So we fly out there, landed, walk in, I pulled the curtain back and I was pretty surprised at what I saw. Jessica was laying there, a lot of dressings on her neck, a lot of blood everywhere. So of course we just jump into action getting a report on what the mechanism of injury was and trying to then support her airway, breathing, circulation, like we're trained to do.”

Nathan Pariseau, BSN, RN, CEN, NRP, flight nurse with CareFlight, says, “Well, we do a lot of things simultaneously. They were already working on controlling the bleeding. They'd already established an airway for her. When we get in, we were immediately re-assessing those injuries, reassessing the airway and listening to what the situation was and what happened. With her case, there was a very significant injury and we knew that time was a factor to bring her back.”

Mike and Nathan were talking to the police, as well as the physicians, trying to find out if the person responsible for attacking Jessica was in custody.  “When I spoke to one of the deputies, she said that we were not able to get him yet and they pinged his cell phone to the Springfield Regional Campus there. They weren't sure where this person was, says Mike. “They formed a perimeter around us, the Sheriff's department and the police department there, a perimeter around us moving quickly to the helicopter,” he adds.
“Once we landed, we did do a hot offload, we came straight down here to the emergency department received by the full trauma team,” Nathan recalls. He and Mike transitioned Jessica’s care to the trauma team, updated each other on any other questions, then stepped back to let the trauma team take over.

“As we typically do in these situations, the whole trauma team assembled and went down to the trauma bay ready to receive the patient,” says Akpofure Peter Ekeh, MD, MPH, FACS, trauma surgeon. “It was clear at this time she had lost a lot of blood by reports. She came into the trauma bay, we took the dressings down, and we saw this very large wound in her neck. It was very clear at this point we had to take her upstairs to the operating room. Within a few minutes we were up in the operating room, which is just a floor above the trauma bay, and proceeded to explore her neck and take care of her surgically.”

Over the last few years, Jessica lost both her parents and remains very close with her Aunt Beth.

“She was so hurt, and she just kept saying, ‘Beth, I don't know what happened’" says Beth Moorman, Jessica’s aunt. Beth didn’t know how much Jessica even knew about what happened to her. “I wanted to just ... she's such a delightful person, but I couldn't stand seeing her like that. I mean, I just started crying and my daughter started crying like, ‘What can we do?’"
Dr. Ekeh says that a trauma can be very life disrupting, and apart from the physical recovery, this type of injury also results in a lot of emotional and psychological stress.

“I was so afraid,” Jessica recalls. “Noises, people, shadows. It didn't matter. Everything scared me. Miami Valley had people come into the room and when they did, they would reassure me that I was okay, and no one was there.”

Beth says that the hospital staff protected Jessica. “Miami Valley Hospital did a fantastic job at protecting Jess, that's for sure.”
Jessica was released into the care of her aunt Beth five days after the attack.

“I feel they saved me. I feel like I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for Miami Valley Hospital,” Jessica says.

Dr. Ekeh says that Jessica did very well recovering from the attack. “I thought she had such a great spirit, such a resilient spirit, and that was very inspiring to see that,” he says.

“I've learned that I'm strong. I got my own place. I got back to work within two months,” Jessica says. What's next for her? “Happiness. Freedom. I can do anything I want.”

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