Teen hopes accident can prompt better safety for pedestrians

By Correne Martin

Just as most 14 year old girls would be getting ready to strut their stuff at school this fall, Prairie du Chien’s Hailey Seitz is learning to walk again.

After being struck by a vehicle while riding her bicycle across Marquette Road July 18, Seitz suffered a fractured skull, two small brain bleeds, a moderate concussion, a broken clavicle, a broken C5 vertebra in her neck, a bone bruise on her left hip, compound fractures in her left tibia and fibula, and bruises and rashes on her face, hips, back and knees. She also has staples in her left knee where doctors inserted a metal rod to assist in her leg’s recovery, she wears a left arm sling and a neck brace until the fusion of her C5 and C6 vertebrae heals, and she will soon begin physical therapy to restore her equilibrium.

Despite the seriousness of her injuries and the enormity of these new challenges, Seitz is determined to make a full recovery. Within days of her accident, she began walking again. Her speedy recovery even resulted in a release from the hospital on July 26—just eight days after being admitted.

Seitz plans to start school with the rest of her peers this fall, but a bit more slowly than the other students. She needs to continue to rest her brain, attend medical and physical therapy appointments, and work on re-strengthening her body.

“She is one brave, courageous, determined, special young woman. She’s shown already in physical therapy that it won’t be very long. She’s had so much strength,” her mom, Sara Shefelbine, said. “We’re very proud of her.”
Seitz hopes her experience can serve as a cause to improve the safety for others crossing one of the busiest roads in Prairie du Chien.

“It was a really scary thing,” Seitz said of the accident. “I’ve learned that you can never be too safe when riding your bike. You need to pay attention and make sure of your surroundings.”

“We’re so lucky Hailey’s alive, but she was right there in the spot where there’s a cluster of driveways,” her mom said. “There needs to be something that makes drivers more aware that children are crossing there.”
Shefelbine plans to be involved as the Prairie du Chien Common Council takes steps to improve pedestrian safety on Marquette Road.

The morning of the accident, Seitz was on her way to summer school. She was attempting to cross Marquette Road at the Wells Street intersection. She said she looked both ways and even “double checked” the traffic before crossing the road. She said a driver waved her across and she saw a big opening, so she started pedaling.

The Prairie du Chien Police Department has yet to report official details about how the July 18 accident occurred. But according to Shefelbine, a car pulled out from the Hardee’s parking lot and hit her daughter while she was crossing Marquette Road. The driver’s name and the speed at the time of the collision have not been released.

“I remember seeing the car really close and trying to speed up before I blacked out,” she recalled. “Then I remember laying on the ground and blacking out again before I was in the helicopter (being medi-flighted to Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse).”

Soft-spoken and with a positive attitude, Seitz said she hopes to meet the driver and let the driver know she’s doing well. Seitz also shared that she is “happy to be alive” and that she hopes a solution can be found for safer pedestrian crossing in PdC.

“I don’t think we need another car accident for something to be done about it,” she said.

Since the accident, Seitz has been surrounded by an outpouring of support from family and friends. She has received many letters and cards via mail from the community, and many people have commented on the “Praying for Hailey and Updates” Facebook Group.

“The prayers and the cards have been so important to Hailey’s recovery,” Shefelbine noted.

“The whole thing has brought me closer to my aunts and uncles and that’s been really nice. The prayers and the well wishes have been really pushing me through this,” Seitz said.

“I’m especially grateful for the first responders; for Mr. Kazda, who directed traffic, and for David Tesar, who was by my side right after the accident.

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