Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fort Thomas Man Airlifted to University of Louisville Hospital After Car Crash

Family Has Been Living at Hospital By His Side Since Accident on September 27. 
Nick Stegner and Joel's aunt Holly by his bedside. Provided. 
On September 27th, almost a year removed from graduating from the National Guard boot camp, Private First Class Joel Stegner was in a life-changing car accident on the Bluegrass Parkway in Elizabethtown.

Stegner is also a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University, majoring in Forensic Sciences. Stegner's family lives in Fort Thomas.

He has several broken bones to his face and legs, a brain injury and was unable to breath on his own. He was airlifted to the University of Louisville hospital and has been there since.

Joel's family dropped everything to be with their son.

"We got a call from clergy at the hospital 8 p.m. on Sunday. She had Nick (Joel's father) identify him by his tattoo," said Joel's step-mother, Gina Stegner. "We left our Fort Thomas home immediately for Louisville's hospital. It was the longest two hours of our lives."

Stegner was sedated for more than a week after multiple surgeries, including a rod placed in his femur and plates in his face.

Nick Stegner is calling his son "Ironman" after an Ironman mask was recovered from Joel's car after the accident.
OCT 1: Joel is gonna be Iron Man when all is done. I bought this for him today. Provided. 
"He has always loved Ironman and now he will truly be Ironman," said Gina.

Friends and family poured in support by visiting, texting, calling and showing up for the family in Louisville. Gina and Nick have been by Joel's bedside since his accident.

Sleeping in the lobby and final receiving refuge at the Ronald McDonald house in Louisville, they are relying on friends and family to help take care of their two teenage kids back in Fort Thomas.

Through their Facebook posts, it's easy to read their breadth of emotions. Hope, fear and gratitude all shine through as they come to terms with what happened to their son.
The Stegner family sleeping in the lobby of the Univ. of Louisville hospital. Provided. 
Below is a series of Facebook updates by Nick and Gina Stegner:

SEPT 28: Just wanted to let everyone know what is going on with Joel. There has been posts about him being in an accident. Well...he was in a bad car accident and is currently in the hospital in Louisville. He is in surgery at this very moment. Extensive injuries...but, the doctors are positive and are working hard on him. Please keep him in thoughts and prayers. Joel is a strong kid! We will get through this. He has a long road to recovery...but, he is alive and that is a blessing!!

SEPT 28: Joel update...one of many surgeries done. Worked on his right eye. Had jagged lacerations. Doctors feel good about it. Surgery on his leg next. Family appreciates all the love and support. He is alive. I get to keep my son!!

SEPT 28: My step son Joel P. Stegner was in a bad car accident Sunday evening and is in a Louisville Hospital. It is pretty serious but I know he's strong and will get through this. Please pray and send positive thoughts.

SEPT 28: Ran home this morning to grab some stuff. Couldn't leave this behind. Joel P. Stegner thinks he's Batman... He is definitely my superhero. You got this Bud!

SEPT 29: I will never understand why all hospitals aren't setup like Children's with a fold out bed in the room. Just because our loved one is over 18 doesn't mean we want to be with him any less. At least we got a couple hours sleep and we did have our own chairs to lay on last night. Keep praying! Thanks everyone.  

SEPT 29: As Gina was speaking to Joel this morning, he turned his head a bit. I think it was her morning dragon breath.

SEPT 29: I know everyone wants updated. Joel P. Stegner strong. He has had 2 surgeries and gotten his back brace. He has surgery scheduled for tomorrow. He is not awake but he let's us know he's pissed when the doctors and nurses mess with him. Just keep praying and sending positive thoughts.

SEPT 30: Joel's hemoglobin levels are low so his facial surgery has been postponed. We are bedside and talking to him. He is still not awake...but, he occasionally moves his arms when we talk to him (or when he gets ticked off at the nurses when working on him). Some AWESOME news...HE MOVED HIS LEG AND TOES!!!!

The Stegners and Holts. Provided. 

SEPT 30: They lowered Joel's pain meds a bit to get him active. My boy opened his eye a bit. He wasn't happy...but, it sure was AWESOME!!!!

SEPT 30: Joel P. Stegner moved his leg and toes today, which is awesome! His hemoglobin and platelets are low so no surgery today. Maybe tomorrow or Friday. Prayers for the counts to go up are needed. Thank you

SEPT 30: We have been asked to ask our friends and family to consider donating blood or platelets to replinish what we are using. This would not go directly to Joel P. Stegner but just help the Red Cross keep their stock up. Thank you

OCT 1: Our fourth night sleeping in a waiting room. I can't sleep... Just got asked by a man passing out rosaries, for the second night in a row, if we were homeless. "No sir just worried about our boy." Sleeping on this hard bench seat is nothing compared to what he's going through. 

OCT 1: Joel P.Stegner's blood counts are up. Surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning and another will happen early next week. Just keep praying and sending positive vibes. Thanks. 

OCT 1: Joel is scheduled for his 3rd surgery tomorrow for his facial fractures.

OCT 1: Hug your kids extra tight tonight. life could change in a blink of an eye. And hey Highlands parents... if you see my kids, give them a hug from me! But only if they know you. 

Gina, Joel and Nick Stegner. Provided. 

OCT 2: Iron man is watching over Joel P. Stegner. Please keep praying.

OCT 3: People are asking for updatea. Condition is the same. He still isn't awake and has a few surgeries planned for the week. Just keep the prayers coming. 

OCT 3: Thanks to the many people that came to see Joel today. His cousin, Keegan, was a bright light on a gloomy day. Joey Holt and Andi Holt finally got to see their brother.

OCT 3: Nick Stegner and I are settling in at the Ronald McDonald House in Louisville. It's very nice. Just never thought we'd need the Ron in a million years. So thankful for it though. Gina and I are blessed with this option!!

OCT 4: Feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep at The Ronald McDonald House. Okay Joel P. Stegner, it's time to wake up buddy. Show us those beautiful eyes!

OCT 4: I saw Joel P. Stegner's left eye ball today! He opened his eye wide and looked right at me. It was only a few seconds but it was nice to see. Facial surgery (several broken bones) Monday. Prayers and positive thoughts please.

OCT 4: Joel's Iron Man mask was retrieved from his car.

OCT 5: Even highly drugged right now he just opened his eye real wide and moved his lips like he was trying to say something. He squeezed Gina'a hand when she asked him to. Joel is a warrior!!

OCT 5: The love and support for Joel and my family keeps pouring down on us. AMAZING! I am outside soaking it all in and reflecting. He is in surgery right now for the facial damage. I will update everyone as soon as he comes out. Thank you EVERYONE!!!!!

OCT 5: Joel P.Stegner's face surgery is over. It went great. Leg surgery tomorrow. Keep praying.

OCT 6: Our boy Joel P. Stegner is opening his eyes and looking at people on request. This is awesome. We wore him out so he's back to sleep and awaiting surgery.What everyone has been waiting for. Joel, you are a superhero!!!! Gina Stegner

OCT 6:Joel P.Stegner's femur is fixed and surgery went well. Go Joel! Joel out of surgery. Went great

OCT 6: Iron Man, Joel, has been opening his eyes and looking at me on command this morning!!!

OCT 6: Since Joel P. Stegner was sedated for surgery today so we really aren't expecting him to be very active tonight. Hoping he will be again tomorrow. He will be getting a G tube for feeding tomorrow. I think the next big goals are to get his BP down and get him off the breathing tube. We will still be here a while but we are making progress.

OCT 7:Another good day for Joel P. Stegner. Tracking us with his eyes and answering yes and no questions with head nods. He still has the trach but starting to breathe better on his own.

Back in Northern Kentucky, friends and family have begun stepping up to help with the day-to-day activities to make sure their family is as uninterrupted as possible.

Pam Frink's son, Clay, was in an accident at the corner of Highland and Fort Thomas Avenues in 2012. She set up a care calendar and Facebook page, Stegner Strong, to help back home in Fort Thomas.

"Having been the recipient of such a gift during Clay's accident, I knew how much it would help to take the worry off the parents knowing meals were covered while they traveled," she said.

You can sign up for the Care Calendar here (link).  Use the Calendar ID: 221329  and Security code: 1480. 

Kelly Chzanowski set up a GoFundMe Page to help with Joel's medical expenses and transportation, temporary housing and food expenses. (link)

"My husband Dave and I have been friends with Nick since high school.  We wanted to set-up the go fund me account to show the Stegner and Holt families our support," said Chzanowski. "Nick and Gina are away from their families, jobs and daily routines so anything we could do to lessen the financial burden and extra expenses they're incurring will be helpful and very much appreciated by them."

GoFundMe page. 
Stegner is expected to be at UofL for a few more weeks before being transported to Cincinnati for rehab.

"Each day is getting brighter," said Nick. "The Stegner/Holt family appreciates the community support."

21 comments:

  1. Please everyone, remember his Mother Jeanne Stegner. She too, has been at his bedside since the accident and could use some support and prayers also.

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    Replies
    1. Hey there. Gina and Nick are personal acquaintances which is why they were the two mentioned. I'd be happy to include Joel's mother. Shoot a message to our Facebook page and I'll be glad to insert her comments.

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    2. Her name is Jeanne Clinkenbeard. I don't think the author meant to leave anyone out. Fort Thomas Matters writes about Fort Thomas families. She lives in another county. Instead of focusing on which family members are mentioned, focus on Joel and his recovery. He has a huge family and lots of friends who love him.

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    3. Her name is Jeanne Clinkenbeard. I don't think the author meant to leave anyone out. Fort Thomas Matters writes about Fort Thomas families. She lives in another county. Instead of focusing on which family members are mentioned, focus on Joel and his recovery. He has a huge family and lots of friends who love him.

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  2. The headline here is misleading. I expected this story to be about how Joel's mother and his father & step-mother rushed to Louisville and haven't left his side. Joel's mother, Jeanne, is never mentioned here. She too has stayed by his side, flooded Facebook with updates, and shared a GoFundMe to help pay his medical expenses. This article should be about how ALL of Joel's family have rallied around him and are supporting and encouraging him every way they know how. It is shameful that you would take a story that should be about Joel and his healing journey (including the long road ahead) and turn it into something divisive. His mother AND his father love him dearly. Communicating anything less is an egregious oversight at best and an intentional exclusion at worst. What ugly, insulting reporting. Pray for Joel. Pray for his dad and step-mom. And pray for his mom. They are all fighting and struggling to get him healthy again.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hey there. Gina and Nick are personal acquaintances which is why they were the two mentioned. I'd be happy to include Joel's mother. Shoot a message to our Facebook page and I'll be glad to insert her comments.

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    2. This is not about mom, dad or step-mom. It's about Joel. However, I don't think anyone noticed that both Joel's dad and step-mom are both writers for Fort Thomas Matters. Maybe that's why Mark, the owner, writer and editor, mentioned them. Pray for Joel and all those who love him and impacted by the accident.

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    3. This is not about mom, dad or step-mom. It's about Joel. However, I don't think anyone noticed that both Joel's dad and step-mom are both writers for Fort Thomas Matters. Maybe that's why Mark, the owner, writer and editor, mentioned them. Pray for Joel and all those who love him and impacted by the accident.

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  3. You forgot to mention the mother who has been there for him day after day and hasn't left his side

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there. Gina and Nick are personal acquaintances which is why they were the two mentioned. I'd be happy to include Joel's mother. Shoot a message to our Facebook page and I'll be glad to insert her comments.

      Delete
  4. I'm glad you all clarified this. I only know Nick thru a friend of mine and don't know much about the family. It's none of my (or anyone else's) business but I do have to admit, I kept thinking "Wonder about his mom? Maybe they're estranged? Maybe she passed away?"
    So yeah, thanks for correcting this. The articles need to include his mother too!! I have a so close to Joel's age and I know I'd be beside myself with worry.
    The more I think of it, those articles/reports really need to edit them to correct the info about Joel's mother. Otherwise, it's very unprofessional...and just...well, RUDE!
    Thinking and praying for Joel and ALL of his family and friends!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there. Gina and Nick are personal acquaintances which is why they were the two mentioned. I'd be happy to include Joel's mother. Shoot a message to our Facebook page and I'll be glad to insert her comments.

      Delete
    2. Praying for this young man but WHO CARES who was quoted in the article?!?! Get your priorities straight people. This young man is ALIVE and no doubt people are worried. Stop fighting anonymously. Thank you for telling this story. I just donated $20.

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    3. I agree. This is about Joel's fight and not about what family member is doing what. Everyone obviously cares about him.

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    4. I agree. This is about Joel's fight and not about what family member is doing what. Everyone obviously cares about him.

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  5. what about a prayer for the man who died??
    and his family and friends

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for mentioning that! There are two families that have been affected by this tragic accident and changed forever! I hope that Joel is able to make a full recovery but prayers should also be sent to Mike Sinclair's family and friends to help them cope with their grief and loss of a loved one!

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  6. E. (Former Cake Eater)October 13, 2015 at 7:08 PM

    One more thing...

    Joel Stegner's mother's name is Jeanne Sue Clinkenbeard, not Stegner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. E - This was a tough story to tell. Certainly the most important item is Joel's health. I've never met some of the parties involved so I decided to issue some caution and not push family members who may be reacting to the situation differently than others.

      As far as your comments go, feel free to use our Facebook page or sign in with a verified account.

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    2. Great job telling a tough story Mark. Praise God that this young man is alive and has so many people who love and care about him.

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    3. Great job telling a tough story Mark. Praise God that this young man is alive and has so many people who love and care about him.

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