By Chad Hobbs
For many in Meade County, Aug. 1 was just a typical Saturday. Traveling on Joe Prather Highway, between Flaherty and Hog Wallow, Tiffany Gibbs’ day had begun much the same. That would all quickly change, when she was involved in a head-on collision on the way to her cousin’s house for a birthday party.
She and an individual in the other vehicle were flown via stat flight to the University of Louisville Hospital. Gibbs suffered eleven broken bones from her clavicle down to both femurs along with a lacerated spleen, liver and a tear in her aorta.
“Yeah, they didn’t give us any information or anything. They just came out and said we need dad and brother, and they took us in this little room,” said Harold Cheek, Jr., Gibbs’ brother. “She was laying in the bed and there were nurses and the chaplain. They said we were going to say a quick prayer, we did that, and they said alright you all have to go. And that was it; no more information.”
“They said they don’t usually do that, but you know, she was in bad, bad shape,” added Harold Cheek, Sr., Gibbs’s father.
Over the next 21 days, Gibbs would undergo six surgeries to repair her fractured body. She would also be separated from her son and daughter for three long weeks. Due to the pandemic, visitors and visiting hours have been drastically reduced at hospitals. Gibbs’ mother, Cindy Cheek, would make the drive every morning and stay till visiting hours ended at 7 p.m. while Harold Sr. watched the grandchildren.
Due to the fact that all four of Gibbs’ limbs are non-weight bearing due to her injuries, the hospital informed the Cheeks that Gibbs would not be able to be admitted into Frazier Rehab upon discharge from U of L, as originally discussed. She would have to return home and heal first before rehab could begin. Like many homeowners, the Cheeks house was not wheelchair accessible.
“I’ve been worried about it since she went to the hospital,” said Harold Sr.
Those worries disappeared last Friday morning. It began when Ryan Lane with Global Disaster Outreach, a local volunteer-based nonprofit that has provided aid in disasters ranging from hurricanes and floods to the current pandemic, showed up with a lumber package. Then a crew from Sines Construction, out of Marengo, Indiana, pulled in the Cheek’s driveway. Lane’s group had donated $2,500 worth of materials and supplies, and Sines Construction was donating their labor to construct a deck with a two-stage ramp, allowing wheelchair access from the driveway to the backdoor of the house. Right before lunch, Lane returned with two large boxes of freshly made tacos donated from The Locals, a popular mobile eatery in Brandenburg, to feed the workers. He said Subway also offered to donate food, but The Locals had already reached out first.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” said Harold Jr.
The Cheeks say it’s been unreal the amount of people that have reached out through this ordeal, even bringing meals for the family. They say they are beyond thankful for the way the community has rallied around them during this difficult time.
“These guys also donated a brand-new wheelchair; so they have really, really, really helped us out and really stepped up,” Harold Jr. expressed. “With everything going on in the world; the way the world is right now, it’s good to see people step up and help each other out. It’s good to see positive with all the negative going on.”
Harold Sr. added, “We are just so thankful.”
Before the interview ended that day, Cindy texted to let them know that Tiffany was still in surgery on her hand, but that the nurse let her know that their daughter/sister would be coming home later that day. Harold Sr. uttered “go-oo-od,” in a slow, drawn out, relieved way that seemed as if a thousand invisible pounds had just been unloaded off of his shoulders, and it would be difficult to judge whether Gibb’s father, brother or son, who had just rode up on his dirt bike, had a bigger smile on their face at the news. There would be a newly built deck and ramp to help finally get her home.