Donated RV lets man stay close to injured wife

Woman remains in coma 11 days after car accident in St. Johns County

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Courtesy of a recreational vehicle dealership, a man has a comfortable place to stay outside the hospital where his wife is fighting for her life.

Tripp House was driving from the Ponte Vedra Beach to UF Health Medical Center in Jacksonville each day as his wife remains in a coma following an automobile accident.  Now he can sleep nearby -- right in the parking lot of UF Health.

"Don't ever believe this can't happen to you, because it can. In less than 30 minutes from the time I left her, my life changed, her life changed, our family's life changed," said Tripp House.

His wife of 30 years, Patty House, has been in the trauma center at UF Health since June 12 when a truck struck her car on the driver's side on State Road A1A in Ponte Vedra. 

Doctors say she remains in stable but critical condition and they are trying to get her fever down so they can fix her broken vertebra.

"She is just the nicest, most caring person you'd ever want to meet. Always caring for other people and making sure everyone is cared for before herself. We have all said as a family that she ... we can't understand why that's happened to her," House said. "Obviously for anyone that's been with someone that long... um... you know for me and our family to see her like that is double hard. She has such a good spirit about her. That has been hard. It's a roller coaster every single day. Now, I'm thinking of certain things and it brings tears to my eyes from that standpoint."

Doctors say Patty House still has a long way to recovery. Tripp House says he spends a lot of time reading to her.

"For me personally, I still like to be right there," said House. "Even though she's not awake, I think consciously she can still hear me."

Anyone who's had a close loved one in the hospital knows the struggle of going back and forth daily from home to hospital to be with that person.

House was in that situation until Dick Gore RV stepped in.

"I was blown away. I was literally in shock., I thought, you've got to be kidding me and he said no, here's the keys, let's go see it. So, he brought me over here. Not only did he do that but Dana fueled it for us. He took care of everything and wouldn't accept payment for anything. Then our neighbors got new bed spreads and sheets and towels. They stocked the bathroom with soap and shampoo and got everything for the RV that I could possibly think of," House said.

The RV company doesn't normally loan out its RVs, but they made a special exception for Tripp's case.

Even through the RV is a blessing because it keeps Tripp close to his wife, he say it's hard to be away from her.

"I don't want to leave that eighth floor, you know what I mean?  I'm still struggling with the fact ... to not be up there. ... Now I can be by her bedside," said House.

Tripp feels blessed to have so much support and says it's a message to everyone to treasure every moment.

"I have told everyone, 'Hug your spouse.' If there are any bridges that you have to fix and repair with anyone, now is the time to do it," said House.

Because Patty House has used about 100 pints of blood, the family is encouraging the community to donate blood in her name to help other people who need transfusions.

The code to give the blood alliance is R242.

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