ADAMS COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A Bluffton teenager is still recovering in the hospital a week after she was hit by a suspected drunk driver near SR 124 and CR 700 W.

According to the Adams County Sheriff, Kaylee Heckber, 17, was behind the wheel of a black impala when the driver of a Chevrolet Traverse hit Kaylee on the driver’s side as she traveled west on SR 124. The driver of the Traverse, Christen Gerber, 41, of Bluffton was supposed to yield.

Kaylee’s dad, Adam Heckber, told WANE 15 she was driving with her boyfriend Keaton in the car, heading to her family’s home. They were only about 200 feet from the house when the crash happened.

She suffered extreme, life-threatening injuries.

According to Heckber, Kaylee was taken to Lutheran Hospital and immediately went into surgery around 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 9. They didn’t get an update from doctors until more than five hours later.

Heckber said his daughter suffered the following injuries: several lacerations to her forehead, behind her ear, and on the back of her arm. Her left ear was split open.  She suffered a broken left clavicle, right rib damage, two collapsed lungs, cuts to her kidney, liver, colon and bowel. Her spleen was ruptured and had to be removed.  Her core body temperature was 88 degrees at arrival.  After the initial surgery she was moved to ICU in very critical condition.

Kaylee lost a lot of blood after the crash and during surgery, Heckber said. Doctors had to add several units to get her stable and to bring her body temperature up.

He also said that a plastic surgeon repaired her lacerations and ear after she was moved to the ICU.

A photo of Kaylee Heckber, courtesy of her family.

While her parents were able to see Kaylee for about five minutes around 2:45 a.m. that next morning, Heckber said Kaylee was still in very critical condition.

Once she was stable, doctors were able to do more testing.

A CT scan and MRI were performed and revealed Kaylee has bleeding in the front part of her brain and suffered several small strokes throughout her brain.

Heckber said they still don’t know the extent of those injuries. They’re hoping the bleeding will stop and no swelling will occur.

Her carotid arteries, which provide the brain’s blood supply, had damage to the inside wall, but it fortunately wasn’t enough to need stints.

Heckber told WANE 15 that doctors spent almost all of Friday testing their daughter.

“Probably two of the worst days of our lives, sitting and waiting to hear anything about her,” Heckber said.

Around 8:00 p.m. Friday, they were finally able to be by Kaylee’s side.

“We have been able to stay with her since that moment which was a great relief,” he added.

Kaylee has a long road ahead of her. How long it will take and how she’ll recover remains to be determined.

Her boyfriend Keaton, 16, was also hospitalized, but was listed as stable by the Adams County Sheriff’s Department.

As for Gerber, formal charges have yet to appear in online court records.

Sheriff Daniel Mawhorr told WANE 15 on Monday that Gerber remained hospitalized and charges are pending.

Gerber is being investigated for the following charges:

  • Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing death or catastrophic injury, Level 4 Felony
  • Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing serious bodily injury, Level 5 Felony
  • Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, endangerment

The crash remains under investigation.

Kaylee’s family created a Caring Bridge page to provide updates on her condition.

A GoFundMe has also been set up to help the family with medical expenses.

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