CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A Clay County teacher is still recovering from a car accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Eve Bradford told News4Jax Monday that the recovery process has been tough since the accident and that she's lucky to be alive.
"Honestly, every time it starts to get to me I think of that picture of that car, and I think about how fortunate I am to simply be breathing," said Bradford.
The sixth-grade Oakleaf Junior High School teacher was driving with her pregnant twin sister, two sons and nephew, when investigators said she was hit by a drunk driver. Bradford and her family were just leaving "Movies In the Park" when deputies said 34-year-old Kevin Warriner ran a red light and crashed into them. Everyone in the car was severely injured, but they all survived.
"I have a vague memory of feeling like I was in a dream-like state and saying to my sister, somehow I knew she was in the car, I remember saying something along the lines of. 'I don't know what just happened, where are we? What's happened?'" said Bradford.
Bradford suffered a broken pelvis in several places and a severe sacral fracture, as well as massive swelling to her brain.
"He hit my door directly. His car actually came 18-24 inches into where I was sitting and I had doctors tell me they didn't know how I lived through it," said Bradford.
Bradford's four passengers, including her pregnant twin sister Dawn, were all in trouble.
"I couldn't feel him at all, no movement, and I truly, truly, truly thought I had lost (the baby)," said Dawn Stidd.
The impact of the crash sent Stidd into labor. After an emergency C-section, her son Eli was born 11 weeks early, weighing in at just 3 pounds. Bradford's youngest son, Dyson, also suffered severe injuries in the crash. The then 4-year-old was paralyzed for a short time, but is now walking again and recently celebrated his fifth birthday.
"It was scary, there was just all this buzzing and then all of the sudden I heard Daniel start screaming, ‘I can't breathe,'" so I knew that he was alive," said Eve Bradford.
The accident is something that forced Bradford's 17-year-old son Daniel Bradford to grow up fast. He suffered a broken leg after it was pinned underneath Eve's car seat. Since his mother hasn't been able to return to school, he has started an online fundraising effort to help cover their mounting medical bills and to carry an important message to his peers.
"I'm in high school, I'm 17 and you know people my age, they're putting drinks in their hands and a lot of them don't realize how dangerous drinking and driving is," said Daniel Bradford.
Doctors told Eve Bradford that she won't be able to return to school this year. In fact, doctors said the earliest Eve Bradford could return to her class will be next year. While she won't be able to teach her students this year, she hopes her accident sends them an important lesson in her absence.
"With sixth-graders you start to see them grow up and you know that eventually they're going to be in high school, they're going to be in college and somebody is going to put a drink in their hand. I want them to remember this. I want them to remember what nearly killed their teacher," said Eve Bradford.
She told News4Jax Monday night that her biggest challenge has been recovering from her brain injury. She explained that she's had a difficult time multitasking and remembering short-term tasks.
Dyson Bradford has been showing progress but still has a clot in his neck and some brain swelling. His recovery will also take some time.
Anyone who is interested in helping the Bradford family members in their recovery can donate to their You Caring Website.