Oneida (WSYR-TV) - A car accident in May left a 15-year-old Oneida teenager fighting for her life. Now, two months later, doctors now say Justine Jakubowski may never walk again.
Justine was riding in a car with eight other teenagers when it went off the shoulder of Route 31 near Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School. The accident, which left her partially paralyzed, occurred just 24 hours after the teen’s junior prom.
Her mother is now raising money to make their house handicap accessible.
“I tried pushing myself up to stand out of the car and I couldn’t move my legs at all,” Justine said. “I was stuck inside the car and I was just determined to stay alive, telling myself, ‘You're not going to die in this car. You're going to stay alive.'”
During nearly nine weeks in the hospital, one of her lungs collapsed and her heart stopped at one point.
Now she’s finally home, though doctors tell her she may never walk again without help.
“She has taken a couple of steps, but that’s with a lot of assistance and a lot of equipment. Her legs are getting stronger. She’s hopeful. She’s determined,” said Leah Jakubowski, Justine’s mother.
Justine’s challenges are compounded in a home that isn’t handicap accessible – the house simply isn’t built for a wheelchair.
“I'd like a shower. I'd like to be able to use a regular toilet. I can't even get into the downstairs bathroom. I'm washing my hair in a bucket. It's bad,” she said.
Justine has left the house only once since she arrived home from the hospital and says a wheelchair ramp outside would make all the difference.
“I just want to go out and see my friends...I just feel so alone,” she said.
Justine's mother graduated from nursing school on the day of the accident, but had to postpone starting a new job in order to take care of her daughter.
"Her goal is to get back to school. My goal is to get back to work and just to get our family, our life back," said Leah.
If you’re interested in donating money or time to building a wheelchair ramp at the Jakubowski home, call (315) 264-0119 or email email@example.com