When my daughter Kendal Levine decided to give up her full ride college basketball scholarship to serve the people of Australia on an 18 month church mission, let’s say I was crushed for the first 37 seconds or so. Then I realized that by learning to love others and serve people, she would be blessed far beyond playing the game we both loved. Besides, she could always play basketball when she comes home right.
Kendal finished out the season, and worked over the next few months to save money and prepare. She left for Australia at the end of August 2013, and as Sister Kendal Levine she learned the meaning of hard work outside of sports.
On Sept 5, 2014 (just over 1 year into her mission) Sister Levine pulled off the road to take a picture of a double rainbow. She wasn’t on the side of the road, she was 15 feet off the road, beyond a staggered row of trees. After taking the picture, as she was about to get back into her car, she was struck from behind by another vehicle. Apparently, the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, didn’t make the crescent shaped turn in the road and veered right to where my daughter was parked. He was traveling approximately 40 mph, and hit her just as she opened her car door. Her head shattered his windshield, and then she was thrown like a ragdoll about 25 feet. When the driver was finally able to bring his car to a stop, he had driven over the top of her where her body landed. Her legs and torso were sticking out and his front bumper was pinning her chest to the ground.
This is where the miracles begin. Kendals life was saved, when the young man across the street heard the commotion, and came out to see what happened. He knew he had to get the car off her chest in order to help her, so he ran back to his garage, grabbed a car jack, jacked the car up, and rolled her out into the recovery position, where she immediately threw up and started breathing again. All in a matter of a few short minutes. He then covered her with a blanket and sat with her until the ambulance arrived, 10-15 or so minutes later.
While in the hospital in Australia, she spent over 3 weeks in a medically induced coma to help her heal. The Doctors were in Awe of her. They couldn’t understand how she could go through such a bad accident and still be alive. And yet she was. Then they started looking at her body and were again amazed that she had NO broken bones and no lacerations, other than 3 half dollar sized spots of road rash. She was basically crushed between the 2 cars, and yet had none of the outward physical injuries that she should have had. We know she was protected.
She was then diagnosed with a Moderate-High Traumatic Brain Injury called a Diffuse Axonal Injury, (basically Shaken Baby Syndrome). Most of the connections between the two hemisheres of her brain had been severed, and the bruising on her brain wasn't in just one spot. So a large portion of her skull was removed so that her brain could swell, and not cause more damage. After 3 weeks she slowly started to open her eyes. We really liked and appreciated the care we received in Australia, but we needed her to be closer to home.
We then transported her to a hospital in Hawaii where we lived, so we could be home and closer to her brother, as we waited and hoped for her to recover.
While we loved the nursing staff in Hawaii, the Neurologist told us that she would never regain consciousness, or be anything more than a girl lying in a bed. They replaced the bone flap in her head, and we waited. Even though she had been “semi-awake”, after 5 weeks in Hawaii she still couldn’t move or communicate. But we just couldn’t accept the Neurologists diagnosis of “She’ll never be any better”.
The hospital determined that they couldn’t do anything else for us, and were basically kicking us out. Miraculously we were able to get her accepted into the Rehab program we are now in.
Now, we have been in rehab for 8 weeks, and the Doctors and therapists are amazed at how far she has come is such a short time. Even though her short and long term memory comes and goes, she can talk and hold conversations. She is getting stronger every day, and her personality is the same as she was before the accident.
She truly is a joy to be around and a modern day miracle.
Her mother and I have been at her side for 12-15+ hours a day, every day since 2 days after the accident. Neither of us has worked in the last 4 1/2 months, as we both feel we need to be there for our precious daughter. Who better to be by her side over the next 6-8-12 months, helping her rebuild her memory and her body than the 2 people that love her the most. Every day she gets stronger, but we have a long road ahead of us.
Almost 6000 people are following our journey on Facebook (Prayers for Sister Kendal Levine), as Sister Levine makes her miraculous recovery. She started serving a mission in Australia, and since the accident her message and story has touched 1000s of people around the world.
We are extremely grateful for the help we have recieved so far.
We don’t know how long it will take, but we hope that Kendal can get mentally and physically strong enough to once again return to Australia to finish the mission she started, as well as continue her education and college basketball career.
Please follow Kendals journey to recovery at the Facebook Group “Prayers for Sister Kendal Levine”
Thank You for Caring and Reading our story.
David & Melody Levine
You can also donate via the following options:
Wells Fargo - Kendal Levine (Tooele)
PAYPAL – [email redacted]
VENMO - @David_D_Levine
Initial Story on KUTV
Updated Story on KUTV (News Video).
- Amy Harper
- William Morgan
- dion Mynatt