Crash survivor: 'It still doesn't feel real'

Posted at: 12/11/2012 12:27 AM
Updated at: 12/11/2012 1:52 AM
By: Jessica Layton

LATHAM - Every day Bailey Wind clutches onto a picture of the love of her life. And she wears the heart necklace her gave her close to her now broken heart.

"He was always so special to me. He'll always be a part of me forever," said the 17-year-old.

And everyday she has moments where she feels like the accident that changed her life was just a dream.

"It still doesn't seem real to me," Bailey said.

On Dec. 1, the Shaker High School senior was in the front passenger's seat of her boyfriend Chris Stewart's car. Shenendehowa High School friends Matt Hardy and Deanna Rivers were in the back. The foursome was on a double date, heading to Deanna's house after the University at Albany-Siena College basketball game. But right near Exit 8 of the Northway was the car crash that would devastate entire communities. Bailey remembers the moment the car was hit.

"I do remember flipping around a little bit. Every time I lay down I feel like I'm flipping in the car. I remember being stuck in the car," Bailey recalled.

Police say Stewart's car was read-ended by a car driven by 22-year-old Dennis Drue. Police say Drue was speeding. Authorities originally said Drue had alcohol in his system, but a source close to the investigation says toxicology results show Drue wasn't legally intoxicated at the time of the accident. New York State Police and the district attorney are awaiting more blood tests before they make a decision on possible charges.

Bailey has frequent flashbacks to that horrific night. And she vividly remembers the moment she was told Chris and Deanna didn't survive.

Her own road to recovery will be long. She's had neck and jaw surgeries, has visible cuts and bruises and lost several teeth. Yet she still manages to smile.

"I try to be as positive as I can when I'm around people. At night is when it hits me the most," she said.

Her mom slowly nods in agreement.

"Nights are the worst. She absolutely sobs. Sobs for Chris. And I sob with her," said Dawn Wind.

But for all that Bailey has lost, she's grateful for life's unexpected gifts. The Wind family home has been a revolving door of love and support. There are banners from Shaker and Columbia High, oversized cards from Schalmont and Shen, and dozens of floral bouquets.

Her friendship with Matt Hardy, the other survivor, has never meant more. She can't wait for the next of the many uplifting messages on Facebook and Twitter. It's all helping Bailey get through this unimaginable heartache, with unmatched grace and strength.

"Words can't describe how happy I am everyone is supportive of me. I'm just looking forward to getting better," Bailey said with a smile.

She can't wait to get back into the pool where she's a stand out diver. Bailey is expected to make a full recovery. She will continue her diving dreams at the University of Tennessee.

You can be part of Bailey's recovery. This Sunday at 8 a.m. there is a "Dive for Bailey Event" at RPI. The flip-a-thon fundraiser will feature divers from around the Capital Region.