The mother of a teenage girl who was hit by a truck last month just outside Sparwood, has said her daughter was planning for her future and was not suicidal at the time of the incident.
Teresa Funk has been spending most of her time looking after her daughter, 18-year-old Amber, in Foothills hospital in Calgary, since the tragic incident on October 3 that left her in a critical condition. Amber’s boyfriend, 20-year-old Victor Winegarden, also from Sparwood, died at the scene.
The Funk family, although extremely grateful for the community support, prayers and donations were upset by how some people jumped to conclusions about her daughter’s state of mind. “It was not long after the accident that we heard people calling this a suicide,” said Teresa.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and I didn’t know where it came from. The word suicide should never been used in this accident.”
She said that Amber and Victor, who had been dating on and off for the past few years, were looking forward to their life and their future together. “Amber and Victor had plans on getting a place together. Victor’s mother had just purchased parts for Victor’s car and he had planned on fixing it soon. Amber had hopes to go to college. She wanted to be a chef or a baker,” said Teresa. “Those that knew them, know that they were planning on the future.”
As, details on the accident are extremely limited, the families hope that the ongoing investigation will shed light into what really happened. “We are told the investigation could possibly take from six to eight months. I am OK with that, I feel good about them doing a thorough investigation,” said Teresa.
The RCMP said that at about 1 a.m. that morning, a southbound four axle dump truck pulling a four axle trailer was coming in to Sparwood on Highway 43 when it encountered two people standing on the highway.
The driver of the commercial vehicle reported honking the horn, locking up the brakes and attempting to avoid the couple, before driving off the road. After leaving the road, the driver got out and went back to the road to discover they had been hit. Victor died at the scene and Amber was taken to hospital with serious injuries, and put into an induced coma.
The Funk family said there have been substantial improvements in Amber, although it is still not known the extent of her brain injuries. “When we first saw Amber, she was unrecognizable,” said Sheree, Amber’s sister. “Her face was so swollen and her eyes were bruised purple. The doctors told us they were in awe she is still here.”
Amber had to have probes in her head monitoring the high pressure in her skull, she had a broken femur, almost every bone in her face was broken or fractured, and she had other multiple fractures elsewhere as well.
Doctors had placed breathing tubes in Amber, not because she couldn’t breathe on her own but because doctors did not want her to overwork herself. Due to the severity of her injuries, Amber was induced into a coma, so doctors could better assess her injuries. Now, she has been brought out of the coma and has had all the breathing tubes and probes removed and can lift her right arm and leg.”She is absolutely amazing,” said Teresa. “She is doing better and better every day. They have begun to sit her up in her bed, and she has opened her big brown eyes.”
Amber did suffer a stroke after the accident and it will take time for the doctors to know the degree of her brain damage. “For now we are just supporting her,” said Teresa. “She may be able to hear us when we talk to her, and at the moment we are only telling her how much we love her, not what happened and not that Victor has passed away. She may not remember the accident, and we don’t want to set her back. I hope that Amber will heal to the point where she can come back and live with me or be able to be in assisted living. I just keep telling her, baby steps, Amber, baby steps.”
Teresa is now home in Sparwood travelling back to Calgary to be with Amber as much as she can, as the financial difficulty of staying there for so long was increasing. “I am very thankful to all those who have donated, prayed and been supportive. Your kindness is very appreciated,” she said. “I would also like to extend a very big thank you to the Hebert family, who have been enormously supportive of our family,” said Sheree. The Funk family also hope this accident will remind other teens to be safe, and that life is so very precious.
A donation account is set up at the CIBC bank in Sparwood for anyone who would like to make a contribute.