A multi-talented young St. John student narrowly escaped severe injuries when the car she was driving was struck by an oncoming vehicle, causing her Suzuki Sidekick to flip and lodge upside down in trees just outside Cruz Bay on Saturday evening, January 26.
Jessica Samuel, a junior honor student at the Gifft Hill School, was driving her white four door Sidekick the night of the accident.
The 16-year-old violin, choir and theater enthusiast — who starred as the spirit guide Kaffe in Epiphany Theater Company’s recent Crackin’ Deh Nut production — had had a busy day that Saturday with a friend’s Hawksnest Beach birthday party and helping out at the St. John School of the Arts. But first she had an interesting conversation with her mother, Samuel explained.
“My Mom was off-island in Florida getting some medical work done and she called me that morning and told me she had a dream, and it wasn’t a pleasant dream,” said Samuel. “It was a dream where we were all helping set up a tent at a party and it fell down on someone. We had to rush and get a lot of people to come and help him.”
“She didn’t like the intuition she was getting and told me to be extra careful,” she continued. “She told me to pray and I did because we are a faithful people. But I continued on and helped bring things down to the beach for my friend’s party.”
Samuel spent the morning running errands for her friend’s beach party and helped out at a reception at the St. John School of the Arts where she studies.
“I had just come from the SJSA where I was helping them with a reception,” said the GHS junior. “I had driven my friend home and I was on my way back to Cruz Bay to drop off another friend on the boat.”
The friend who had just been dropped off called a friend in Samuel’s car and asked the teens to return to her house, Samuel explained.
“I wasn’t on the phone, but my friend in the front seat was telling me what she was saying,” said Samuel. “I was saying, ‘no we’re not going back,’ and I was driving around the corner and I couldn’t see anything. I just saw headlights and I was thinking, ‘this guy is really close to me.’”
“Then he came into my lane and hit the front of my vehicle,” she continued. “He hit the front passenger’s side first and I tensed up and tried to get control of the vehicle, but I couldn’t and it started tilting on its side. It tilted backward and forward because there was a lot of force and I was tensing and didn’t know what to do.”
The vehicle eventually fell over on its side and skidded along the road until it flipped over at the edge of the hillside.
“Eventually it flipped over and a tamarind tree saved it from going completely end over end,” said Samuel. “We were stuck there on the roof and everything was black but as soon as the car stopped in the trees, my two friends got out. I had my seatbelt on and they were the ones with no scratches or bruises or anything.”
Samuel couldn’t feel her hand and immediately knew something was wrong with her arm.
“I could see my hand limping and I started freaking out,” she said. “I was praying and hoping that my hand was still connected to my arm because I couldn’t feel anything at that time. I don’t know how I got out of the vehicle — I really can’t tell you.”
While she was most likely in shock, the high school student has some vivid memories of the events which occurred right after the accident.
“I think I was in shock because I wasn’t crying or anything,” said Samuel. “I saw the bone in my arm was popping out and I was scratched and had punctures in my hand. I was just standing there and I was like, ‘someone help me please.’”
“No one knew what to do,” she continued. “People were just in my face doing nothing and I was so frustrated — I felt so helpless and so hopeless. And it just hurt so bad.”
Seemingly out of nowhere came a person who comforted the scared 16-year-old.
“The Lord sent me an angel,” said Samuel. “This guy came out of nowhere and held my hand and hushed me and told me to take deep breaths. He was being so sweet and so gentle and just comforting me.”
“I didn’t even see his face because he was behind me just holding me,” she said. “I don’t know who he is, but if he reads the newspaper I want him to know I thank him so much and I pray for him and thank the Lord for him. He gave me the comfort that I needed before the ambulance came and I don’t know what I could possibly do to thank him.”
V.I. Police Department officers arrived shortly after the accident, followed by EMTs and an ambulance. The three teenagers were transported to the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, where the two passengers were released.
Samuel was seen in the emergency room at MKSCHC around 10 p.m. before being transported to the R.L. Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas for treatment to her injured left arm. She she arrived in St. Thomas shortly after 1 a.m.
“My friend Malik Stevens — whose birthday party was that day — and his mother Deverell Alfred were at the boat waiting for us when we got there from the clinic,” said Samuel. “At the hospital in St. Thomas I was taken straight to the emergency room and I was supposed to meet with the doctor. ”
“That was around 1 a.m. and around 8 a.m. they told me they realized the doctor was off-island in Miami,” she added. “I was very frustrated and I was in so much pain I didn’t know what to do.”
Alfred, the sole adult helping Samuel at the hospital, pressed the staff for answers.
“Deverell had to get aggressive with them and ask what was going on,” said the GHS student. “My stepdad was in shock and couldn’t do much and my Mom was off-island. Deverell helped a lot and they finally released me around noon.”
Samuel’s arm was dressed in a splint and she was told her humerus bone was severely fractured, her wrist was fractured, her arm was sprained and she had numerous bruises and punctures.
“They said they couldn’t put on a cast because my arm was so swollen so they just put on a splint,” said the teenager. “They are saying it should just go back in place on its own. But that didn’t make much sense to anyone.”
The GHS student returned home on Sunday afternoon and her mother cut her trip short and returned to be by her daughter’s side on Wednesday, January 30.
Soon, Samuel will be flying to Florida to consult with different doctors.
“My mom had to postpone her own doctor’s appointments and tests to come back home,” Samuel said. “She doesn’t really believe the doctors did their job, so I’m going to Orlando where my mom had friends and knows several doctors.”