New Ordeals, Fresh Wounds For Medevac Crash Survivor

By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The emergency medical technician leaned over and whispered into Jordan Wells's ear. The weather is too bad for the helicopter to land at Prince George's Hospital Center. We're turning around.

The news didn't scare the 18-year-old any more than what she had already been through that night: crashing her car on a rain-slicked road in Waldorf, learning that she and a friend would be flown to a trauma center.

But soon the medical helicopter began to rock, Wells said, describing the Sept. 27 ordeal in her first detailed interviews. Her eyes darted up to the EMT, Tonya Mallard, and to an onboard paramedic, Mickey Lippy. They were clinging to their seats.

Suddenly, over the chop of blades, Wells heard branches scraping the helicopter.

Everything went black.

When Wells opened her eyes, she was sprawled on the ground in what seemed like a forest. She was shivering, and a drizzle was falling on her bare arms. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness.

To her right was the twisted wreckage of the helicopter, jet fuel pooling around it. No one else was moving or even crying. There was only silence.

"I was alone and hurting and cold, and I didn't know if anyone was going to find me," Wells said.

She rolled up the hem of her jeans, revealing a bloody tangle of muscle, bone and skin. She tucked her hands under her thighs and tried to inch farther from the helicopter. Pain shot up from her toes.

Again, everything went black.

Wells is the only survivor of the worst disaster in the state medevac program's history of nearly five decades, a crash that led to new procedures for the approval of such flights. Four others aboard the helicopter were killed: her 17-year-old friend Ashley Younger, the pilot, the EMT and the paramedic.

The crash left Wells with a broken cheekbone, nose and eye socket. Broken shoulder blade. Compound fracture in left elbow. Bruised lung. One dislodged disk in the neck, four in the back. Everything below the knees was shattered in both legs, including every bone in every toe.

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