“I can do all things through Christ whom strengthens me.”
This is the favourite scripture of Evelyn Pitt. The mother of four says it was these powerful words which helped her to fight the battle of a lifetime. Ten years ago today, she was involved in a tragic accident which left her good friend dead and her barely clinging to life. She reflects on that horrific experience exclusively with SheHub.
“April 5, 2009, is a day that has never left my mind and I don’t think it ever will. My life definitely changed forever but I’m thankful to God for bringing me this far.”
Evelyn was the passenger in her car that night. She recalls what happened prior to the accident.
“That day I held a birthday party for one of my daughters and after a long day, I wanted to have some mommy time. I decided to go out alone. I went to Swizzle in Warwick and that’s where I saw Yogi, who was used to be my next door neighbour. After a while we went onto Henry VIII’s. It was a good night. When we left to go home, Yogi was driving and the last thing I remember was us passing Astwood Park’s gate.”
On that fateful night, Evelyn, Winston ‘Yogi’ Burrows and another friend, Honest, were heading east on South Shore Road in Bermuda, when they were struck head on by a heavy truck driven by then 32-year-old Luke Armstrong, an expatriate who was working for a local company at the time. He was travelling with a friend in the truck which he held no licence for. Although the men left the scene after the accident, he subsequently admitted he’d consumed four or five drinks prior to the collision.
The car with Evelyn and her friends burst into flames, leaving Mr Burrows dead and Evelyn suffering from a broken neck and multiple fractures.
Armstrong was subsequently sentenced to time behind bars for his role in the accident but was acquitted of the more serious offences upon appeal and released. Evelyn filed a civil suit against him, however he absconded the island and never appeared in court.
To date, he has never returned to the island to attend the hearing.
Evelyn, who did not want to share her journey to recovery until the tenth anniversary of the accident, recalls for SheHub the days after the incident.
“When I woke up in the hospital that morning all I did was cry. I didn’t know exactly what had taken place or what was wrong with me at the time. All I know is my family was there and I was told I had been in a bad car accident. Immediately I asked for Yogi and Honest. Not knowing that Yogi had passed away, I kept asking for him and everyone was saying that he was fine. I learned later that the doctors didn’t want me to go into shock.
“More people were showing up to see me and I was unaware of how badly I was injured until I was taken to have x-rays and it was determined that my neck was broken. I had to be flown away as soon as possible as to get medical attention. I learned that my I had broken my neck in the c2 area, which is called a Hangman Fracture. I shouldn’t be sitting here in front of you 10 years later, but I am only by the grace of God!”
Evelyn says as she was being prepared to travel overseas all she could think about were her children, Jahfari, Jahkera and Ayana who were ages 12, 9 and seven at the time.
“My fight was for them so they wouldn’t be motherless.”
She continues: “I was scared when I arrived at Boston Mass General. I can remember there being around 15 people in the room as they were preparing to fit me with a halo. They were amazing. Besides having a broken neck, I had a broken left knee and my the big toe on my right foot was broken. My head, lips and chin were also split open. It was a horrible sight to see, but I am thankful for surviving.”
After being in the hospital for a week, Evelyn still was not aware that her good friend had perished in the accident. While she was in a Spaulding Rehabilitation Centre relearning how to walk, is when she learned the what had happened to him.
“I was talking to one of my friends and they asked if I was aware that he had passed away. When I asked my dad and he confirmed, I cried and cried. I felt so guilty because I felt that he died in the place of me since he was driving my car. To this day, I think about him a lot. I try not to feel guilty and so many people have told me that him dying was not my fault. Throughout the years, I have had to make sure that I have forgiven myself for his death because I carried that guilt for years.”
Evelyn adapted to life in her halo, which she ended up wearing for three months. She says she is grateful to her family, and especially her sisters who all pitched in to assist her. She says she also wanted to thank two gentlemen from the Southampton (Bermuda) Seventh-Day Adventist Church who visited her regularly. She says she never learned their names, but they helped to reinforce her faith during her recovery.
Two months after the halo was removed, to her surprise, Evelyn became pregnant with her youngest daughter, Miracle. Here she shares how she felt when she discovers she was going to become a mom again.
Over time, Evelyn’s physical scars healed, but she was plagued by debilitating headaches, which caused her to spend many days off work. She subsequently lost her job, but she says she never lost her faith.
Now living in the UK with her husband Yusaff, whom she married on February 25, 2017, and Miracle, Evelyn says she is thankful to be alive and is eternally grateful to everyone who helped her from the moment the accident happened.
“I am blessed,” she says with a tearful smile.