Baker County teacher improving after crash

Friends raise more than $10,000 for Sara Beth Summers

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local high school teacher and actress continues to improve in the hospital after a bad car crash on Interstate 10 last week.

Sara Beth Summers, 27, is an English and drama teacher at Baker County High School.  She has been hospitalized since a head-on car crash on I-10 near Chaffee Road. 

Summers' husband said his wife can now give a thumbs-up and squeeze his hand when he talks to her. Doctors have also reduced her pain medication and say they may be able to take her off of the respirator soon, according to her husband.

"She's probably one of the most amazing and talented people I've ever met," said Jocelyn Geronimo, Sara Beth's understudy.

In her spare time, she's starred in several community plays. 

That's how she met the close friends who are now by her side as she begins a long recovery.

Sara Beth had a role in Young Frankenstein, which is on stage now at the Players By The Sea Theater. After the crash, the cast decided the show must go on. They say it's what she would want.

"When she did finally wake up, tears started pouring out of her eyes because she was so concerned about what's going on with the show, and so they had to calm her down, tell her it's ok, it's going forward, everything's going great," said David Gile, a friend of Sara Beth. 

Proceeds from a Thursday night performance of Young Frankenstein are going toward her medical bills. And friends have set up an account where people can donate. So far, they've raised more than $10,000.

"So we can raise money for the various medical expenses, living expenses that are going to be necessary in this incredibly long, healing journey that our Sara Beth is going to be on for a while," said Patti Menefee, who is managing the donation account. 

There's no doubt Sara Beth has a rocky road ahead of her. But, she has dozens of family and friends who vow to be with her every step of the way, so she may one day be back to her usual self.

"When you do a show, the whole theater community in Jacksonville is a family. It has been phenomenal from what I've seen over the past week of what's been happening. Everything I see on Facebook is support for her. Every profile pic is changed to the icon we created for her. Outpouring of money, love, prayers, good wishes. It's stupendous," said Katie Swider, who is in the production with Sara Beth. 

If you'd like to help this young teacher and actress in her recovery, go to the group's Facebook page or Donations can also be dropped off at Players By The Sea Theater.

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