When Kimberly Cherney left her Santa Clarita home for work on a rainy Tuesday morning, she had no idea she would come within an arm’s reach of death. “There was an angel in the car protecting me,” she said Friday afternoon prior to being released from Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. The 37-year-old mother of two spent 10 days in the hospital after a March 28 collision with a big rig that left her with massive injuries. In addition to all of her ribs being fractured, she suffered punctures to one kidney, her spleen and each lung, a fractured arm and numerous bruises. She bears a scar across her forehead, where doctors used stitches and staples to repair her scalp, which was pushed to the back of her head in the crash, revealing her skull. Shortly after 5 a.m. on March 28, Cherney was getting onto the southbound side of Interstate 5 via the Rye Canyon Road onramp, heading to Home Depot in North Hollywood, where she is a manager. California Highway Patrol officers said Cherney lost control of her 2004 Mitsubishi, sending her car skidding east across I-5 and colliding with a 2005 Peterbilt big rig driven by T. Jaime Ventura, 34, of Bakersfield, who was also hospitalized for injuries. Cherney’s car spun out, hitting a guardrail before colliding into the center divider. The collision is the last thing she remembers, she said. Ranbir Singh, a trauma surgeon at Henry Mayo, was on duty when Cherney was brought in and remembers “she was just moaning and groaning.” Cherney’s two punctured lungs were the first hurdle, he said, and she was connected to a ventilator while in the emergency room. In addition to her numerous external injuries, X-rays and a CT scan revealed Cherney was suffering significant internal bleeding from a punctured kidney and spleen. That, Singh said, led to a difficult judgment call — perform surgery to remedy the situation, or wait it out and see if the bleeding would stop on its own. The mild-mannered surgeon chose the latter option, and fortunately, he said, “she stopped bleeding.” In fact, while extensive, Cherney’s injuries did not merit surgery, and she is being advised to rest and let her body heal on its own. “That’s the best satisfaction,” Singh said. “She’s going home today and (she’s) fully intact.” Cherney’s hospital room was the same as any other. It had bland walls, fluorescent lighting and the antiseptic smell of every hospital room in America. But on Friday, it was brightened by the presence of flowers, balloons and family members. On the floor sat an oversized stuffed bear, clad in a Home Depot apron signed by her co-workers. The past 10 days were especially hard on her son, Austin, 11. Seeing his mother on life-support was scary, he said, “but I prayed for her a lot.” “I think it’s the power of prayer and love that has helped heal me,” Cherney said, adding praise for Henry Mayo’s trauma center. “This was a life-changing experience.”
This story can be found in Saturday's Signal Newpaper .