After nearly 7 months, Virginia teen ’emerges’ from coma

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Fundraiser planned for Sunday

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Hearing that her daughter Sedonia wouldn’t be coming home as soon as she expected was actually the best news her mother Dr. Carrie Triepel could receive.

“Doctor called me and said she’s emerged,” Triepel said of the phone call she received on August 7. “I just, I just screamed holy expletives.”

Sedonia, 17, suffered major injuries from a car crash that happened on December 19, 2018, on North Great Neck Road, where it meets River Road in Virginia Beach. She was put on life support because of injuries to her brain.

Since then, Sedonia has been in a coma and has had 15 surgeries. Since mid January, she has been treated at the Shepherds Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The center specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injuries and acquired brain injury.

Triepel, who herself is an orthopedics surgeon for Sentara, said progress has been steady. Sedonia was scheduled to come home at the end of August, until the emergence opened up new rehabilitation opportunities.

“Now she’ll be doing 5 hours of rehab per day, and it’s a very specialized area. Only a few areas in the county are offering that rehab,” Triepel said.

She said her daughter can move her extremities, but controlling the movement will take work.

“She can answer yes, no questions. For example she will turn her head left for ‘yes’ and right for ‘no’,” Triepel explains.

However, her memory is in tact, according to her mother. She even can remember what Harry Potter “house” she was sorted too.

“That’s my daughter,” Triepel laughed.

In light of the long road ahead, several local elected leaders are hosting a fundraiser Sunday, August 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hot Tuna in Virginia Beach.

Victoria Manning, an At-Large Virginia Beach School Board Member, headed up the effort. The money raised will go towards the purchase of a wheelchair for an accessible van for when Sedonia eventually returns home.

Donations will be accepted at the door, but you must register ahead of time to attend.

Triepel said the community has been amazing since day 1.

“Think I’m holding up well, and that is purely through my faith in God and everyone’s prayers,” Triepel said. “Nobody’s life turns out the way they plan it to be … no one’s. Just like in a tennis match. You don’t learn by winning, you learn through your struggles.”

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