Local News, originally published here.
A valley woman walks away from a fender bender, seemingly unhurt, just to die hours later. 13 Action News spoke with her heart-broken husband to find out how the minor accident near Charleston and Lamb boulevards actually killed her.
Security cameras at the Helton home show Debbie Helton doing her morning routine before work. The video shows her taking out the trash, letting the dogs out, and getting in her truck to go to work.
“I didn’t know that was going to be my last kiss or I would have really laid one on her,” said husband Gary Helton. “I wouldn’t of let her go.”
As Debbie was on her way to work, she approached the corner of Charleston and Lamb. That’s when a driver cut her off. Debbie tried to stop, but she ended up hitting the back rear passenger side of the woman’s car.
“That was her first and only ever accident since she’d been driving,” said Gary Helton.
It was just a fender bender. Pictures show how minimal the damage was. Debbie called her husband to tell him she’d been in an accident.
“She said, I was just in an accident, I said, you were? You OK? She said, yeah I’m alright. I’m OK.”
But Gary rushed to the scene anyway.
“She talked. She didn’t act weird. She didn’t act strange. There was nothing abnormal about what she was doing.”
The other driver was given a ticket. That’s when Debbie was cleared from the scene. She got in her truck to head to work. Gary followed her to work just to make sure she was OK. They walked inside her work, chatted for a few, and then Gary left to go to his work.
He told her he loved her and he would see her later.
No more than 45 minutes later, Gary got a phone call from Debbie’s boss saying Debbie had a seizure and was on her way to the hospital.
Gary couldn’t understand. So he and his son hopped in the car and rushed to the hospital.
When they arrived, the nurses and doctors wouldn’t immediately let Gary into Debbie’s room. But eventually, one of the nurses broke the life changing news.
“She said, well we did everything we could and she didn’t make. I said, make what???”
Gary rushed into the hospital room and saw his wife’s lifeless body laying under a sheet.
“I couldn’t get to her fast enough cause I thought maybe I would still see her breathing or still see something. But when I got there, there was nothing except for a sheet over her head,” said Gary as he cried.
It turns out, Debbie did not have a seizure. What happened was, Debbie broke a rib during the impact from the crash. Her airbag never deployed. The rib ended up puncturing her heart while she was at work, causing her to bleed out for a few minutes until she died.
“I spent 41 years with the same woman that loved me no matter what I did.”
Gary hopes this story raises some awareness to anyone else involved in a minor accident. Even if you feel OK, he hopes you will still go to the doctor to get checked out.
“No matter how minor you think the accident it, you should go to the doctor just to get it checked.”
The other driver involved is now facing criminal charges.