- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - Jody Bogue has the perfect spot in her house to do what she loves.

She spends most days sewing in the sunroom in the front of the two-story farmhouse just north of Quincy where she lives with her husband, Bob. She also builds dollhouses — one for each of her 15 grandchildren — and has a garden in the back. She is an Illinois Certified Master Gardener.

“I just got my five-year (Master Gardener) pin this year,” Jody said with a smile.

Jody, 63, takes special care of her yard. She is meticulous in how certain things are done to preserve nature.

“I don’t rake until spring, because with my walnut trees, I like to leave the walnuts for the squirrels,” she said. “But by spring I’m sick of looking at the mess. I can’t wait to get out there and clean it all up.”

When Jody goes out into her yard, she puts a special strap on her arm to control the rake. Unlike most who spend time in their yards and gardens, Jody, a quadriplegic, needs special tools to enjoy her time outdoors. She has been paralyzed for more than 23 years, the result of injuries she sustained in a drunken driving accident.

She has full movement of her arms but can’t grab things. She has feeling on the top part of her hands but not the bottom. Special equipment allows her to hold things so she can sew and build those dollhouses.

All of the physical problems she deals with daily are because of what happened on a Friday night, Feb. 8, 1991.

Remembering everything

She was driving east on U.S. 24 near West Quincy, Mo. She had just picked up her 16-year-old stepson, Matt, from an event in Canton, Mo. At the time, the road was just two lanes. As they headed down the road in the family’s van, they were met head-on by a drunken driver.

Sitting in the kitchen of her farm house on a crisp fall day, Jody recounts the events of the worst day of her life as if it happened yesterday. She is one of the few people who remembers everything that happened, losing consciousness only briefly.

“We were coming around a curve,” Jody said. “Right when he should have been turning, he didn’t. All of the sudden there were headlights in my lane and there was a very loud noise when we hit. I was knocked out. When I woke up, I was kind of on my side in a very awkward position. It was pitch dark, but I heard people who had stopped to help.

“We landed in a field of some kind. I heard someone say they had found someone out wandering in the field and then I heard Matt’s voice, I knew he was OK. He was walking and talking.”

Matt, who was not wearing a seat belt, suffered minor injures and needed just a dozen stitches on his forehead. Jody, who was wearing a seat belt, needed to be cut out of the vehicle with the Jaws of Life because her feet were stuck.

At first, Jody had no idea how badly she had been injured in the accident.

“(My legs) were trapped,” she said. “I couldn’t move them anyway, but at the time I didn’t realize that (she couldn’t move them).”

Life before the wreck and the aftermath

Judy has been living in her farm house since 1981. She and Bob recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Their family was a true-life version of the “Brady Bunch.” Jody had three sons and one daughter. Bob brought with him three sons and one daughter. The family moved into Jody’s farm house.

When they were married, Bob worked as a truck driver, leaving Jody to watch the kids. They ran a truck farm out of the home. They grew vegetables, selling them to grocery stores, farmer’s markets and area restaurants.

“It was a great way to raise kids,” Jody said. “It was a lot of work, and everybody works. My discipline of choice was hard labor. If they got out of line, they had more work to do. I was pretty strict.”

By the time the winter of 1991 rolled around, Jody was 39 years old. She already was a grandmother and still had three children living at home. Life was good.

Then everything changed.

Jody had emergency surgery at Blessing Hospital in Quincy the night of the crash. She spent five days in Quincy before being transferred to Saint Louis University Hospital.

“I had been there a while, and that’s when I heard one of the nurse refer to me as a quadriplegic,” she said. “That’s when I realized how bad it was.”

Things got worse. Jody was on life support for a short time weeks after the accident when she began having trouble breathing. She eventually recovered and went back home.

She came home to a busy, new world. The Bogues didn’t have to do much to accommodate her wheelchair other than putting some small ramps outside and inside the house.

Jody admits to feeling down after she got home, but there was no time to feel sorry for herself. During her time in the hospital, a second grandchild had entered the family, and many of the couple’s children were experiencing major life events.

“Within a year after I got out of the hospital, we had a daughter graduate high school and one of our sons graduated from college,” she said. “The next year, we had two sons graduate from high school and a daughter got married. You can’t have all of that life going on around you and not want to be part of that.

“You can’t go sit and vegetate in the corner if you’ve got kids.”

Getting the message across

Jody was first contacted by the Adams County Mothers Against Drunk Drivers in 1994, a little more than three years after her accident.

At the time, MADD was just beginning to make a dent in drunken driving fatalities. When MADD was founded in 1980, more than 21,000 people died each year in drunken driving accidents in the U.S. With MADD helping to lead the way by asking for stricter drunken driving legislation across America, the number of fatalities began to drop. In 1991, the year of Bogue’s accident, 15,827 people died from drunken driving incidents.

She was asked to speak at a Victims Impact Panel, which many DUI offenders are required to attend as part of their sentence. The panels, held several times a year at the Adams County Courthouse, feature victims of DUI, offenders and survivors, all of whom tell their stories about how drunk driving has affected their lives.

“The first time I did it, I probably didn’t speak for much more than two minutes,” Jody said.

Sitting in front of a full courtroom, Jody was one of four people who spoke at an impact panel in September. She spoke for more than 20 minutes, telling them the story of what happened on the night of the crash, the aftermath and how it has affected her life.

“You can’t be angry or bitter when you talk to these people,” she said. “You’ll turn them off.”

The speech was one of hundreds she has done. Jody believes she is making a difference by putting her story out there for others to hear.

“We are told the (impact panel) reaches them more than any of the classes that they take,” Jody said. “The impact panels are very effective. If we can get to them at the high school age when they are getting their license, we can impress upon them at that age not to drink and drive.”

Jody has spoken at several area schools, often telling her story before a mock crash is performed at the school.

The Adams County Bar Association honored Bogue in 2008 with its Liberty Award for her work fighting drunk driving. Even though the number of drunk driving deaths are less than half of what they were 34 years ago, she knows work still must be done.

“When I was a kid, getting caught drinking and driving was just kind of snickered at. Nobody took it seriously,” she said. “It’s a bit different in how the law books look at it, too. You can always make the law stricter, but that’s not going to stop them. Getting to them young is important.”

Moving forward

Jody never confronted the man who altered her life because he died at the scene of the accident. She holds no ill will toward him.

“For most people, there is a sense of injustice. ‘I’m like this, and he didn’t get hurt,’ ” she said. “I didn’t feel that kind of injustice. My offender died. If anything, I feel like his family were victims, too. He left a wife and three kids.

“I don’t like to give too many specifics about my offender. His wife told their kids that he died of a heart attack. I want to let them have that.”

On the second floor of the farm house is Jody’s old sewing room. Trips to the second level of the house are few and far between, because there is no room for a wheelchair lift. When she does go upstairs, she needs people to carry her to the top.

“I get to go upstairs about once a year, but it’s been a while,” she said. “I’m supposed to go up soon. We’ve had to do some remodeling up there, and it’s pretty well done.

“I want to get up there and do a little spring cleaning.”

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Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://bit.ly/1yjdoig

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com


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