Latest 'Up Front' Highlights How Cabarrus County Has Come Together for One of its OwnOct 30, 2020 12:30PM ● By Jason Huddle
Episode 81: For Morgan
19 year-old Morgan Wetherbee was simply driving to her boyfriend's house when the unthinkable occurred. A oncoming car jumped the median and hit Morgan head-on. Almost six-months later, Morgan still fights for her life in a hospital bed, but the community is coming to gather to fight for Morgan. This week, we speak with Morgan's mother, Melody Wetherbee, and aunt, Melinda Hill, as they tell us Morgan's story and how people are rallying around them to help in any way they can, including an upcoming fundraiser.
If you would like to contribute to Morgan's' recovery fund, click HERE.
On a spring day earlier this year 19 year old Morgan Wetherbee, a Cabarrus County resident was heading over to her boyfriend's house to work on a school paper. Little did she know her life and that of her families would be changed forever. A terrible auto accident left Morgan's body mangled, and her life in jeopardy. Now, almost six months later, her family can tell that Morgan is still fighting for her life.
Melinda Hill 00:29
You know, in these moments where you're really grasping for any sort of sign and signal that she is in there and has this hopefully ability to emerge at some point. It's like okay, you are in there, you we have not lost Morgan, and it's a matter of time is what our prayer is that she will start to show that more and more
Jason Huddle 00:52
Now her family stands in the midst of facing medical realities, but praying for a miracle.
Melody Wetherbee 00:58
I don't know what Morgan's outcome is going to be. But I have to have faith, I have to have hope to continue to give her that hope and to continue to give her that positive energy as she is going through this journey.
Jason Huddle 01:13
But in the midst of tragedy comes hope. As Morgan story has spread throughout the community. Many have come together to help in any way they can, including scheduling a fundraiser this Friday night, October 30 at Punchies Diner, today, we talked to Morgan's mom and Aunt as they walk us through this terrible tragedy and discuss how people can help if they wish. That's all coming up right now an Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. Presentation of CabCo Media Group sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Eye Center, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Concord Downtown Development Corporation. Geico Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty, New Hope Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus. I'm your host Jason Huddle. Hello my friends and welcome to a very sobering edition of Up Front Cabarrus Magazine. If you live around the Concord area you may have been following the story of Morgan Wetherbee. Beautiful 19 year old young lady who was in an auto accident, that was not her fault. And now lives in a hospital bed in a semi comatose state, with her family keeping vigil and hoping for the best. The story is so compelling and this community has really rallied around Morgan's family to the point as I mentioned in the intro that fundraisers are being planned, including one this Friday. So we were actually releasing this podcast episode about a day early. Because I felt it was important to give as much lead time for this fundraiser as possible, while also giving our listeners an idea of how they can help in other ways. But I wanted you to hear Morgan story from her mom and aunt. And so we are going to visit with them in just a few minutes and check on how Morgan is doing and what we can do to help. It seems a little bit rude. This kind of episode to do shameless plug time. So I'll just mention really quick that our November issue is getting ready to come out. Make sure you keep an eye out for that next week, in stands and online. When we return from break, we will have Morgan's mom and Aunt online to talk about this horrible story and what you can do to help. Please stay tuned.
Jason Huddle 05:32
Welcome back to the program we have on the line with us today. Melody Wetherbee and Melinda Hill. Melody is Morgan's mom and Melinda is her aunt and first of all, ladies, thank you so much for coming on the program today and sharing your story.
Melody Wetherbee 05:50
You're welcome, thank you for inviting us.
Melinda Hill 05:53
Thank you so much.
Jason Huddle 05:55
So before we get into what happened, Melody wants you tell us a little bit about Morgan and what kind of girl she is.
Melody Wetherbee 06:02
Well, Morgan is a, she's 19. Now she is a student at Rowan Community College, Morgan participated in the dual program and graduated high school with about a year worth of college completed. So, so she's a very logical person, she's not an emotional person at all, has a lot of sarcasm, she loves to be kind of just to kind of poke the bear a little bit and see how people respond to it. She is an artist, and she is a very giving person and kind of quiet introvert on the outside. But inside her heart is just huge.
Jason Huddle 06:49
You have anything to add to that Melinda?
Melinda Hill 06:51
Well as her aunt, I think it's been just really fun to see her. You know, as a middle child, she loves her brother. She loves her younger sister sometimes, but like, like Melody said, She's just she's so much fun to be around because you never know what you're going to get. She loves spaghetti and loves naps. And she's just a really fun loving, unique individual for sure.
Jason Huddle 07:19
So take us through, if you will, what exactly happens the day of the accident?
Melody Wetherbee 07:25
Okay, so May 7th is a was a Thursday. And Morgan had I work from home. So Morgan had come into the office where I was working earlier that morning. And she's sharing some things with me saying that her birthday was coming up on May 18. And she said, you know, she was feeling kind of guilty. But at the same time she was she just didn't know if anybody would remember her birthday. And she she was kind of feeling a little bit forgotten, I think. But I told her, you know, don't don't worry, you're, you're in good, good hands. And so we were working to get prepared for my son's wedding, which was scheduled for May 22. And because of COVID we were going to do a very small ceremony in my backyard. So Morgan was working to help paint some of the barn white in the backyard. And she had painted for, you know, several hours during the day. And then she had a final paper due on Friday. So around six o'clock she had finished painting. And during the day Morgan's boyfriend and I had been texting and we were talking about making a surprise party for her. On Sunday, Sunday after her birthday. We were like, let's try to get that together so that she would just feel very special. And anyway, she I was on the roof of the barn, trying to sweep things off the cleaning out and Morgan said Mom, I love you. I've got to go over to my boyfriend's house. We're going to go finish our papers. We have one we have them due tomorrow. She said I'll be back later this evening. I said okay, sweetie, I love you. And then she got in the car. She got back out of the car and got on to my, my younger daughter and my daughter in law for you know, be sure to watch mom make sure she's safe up there on that roof. And so, a few minutes later, I received a phone call from her boyfriend crying and saying that Morgan had been in an accident and so he didn't hear from her when she was supposed to be at his house at that certain time and tried to call her phone and there was a gentleman who was the I guess he was an ex first responder And he was the first person who was on the scene of the accident. And so he he answered the phone and told Morgan's boyfriend where, where the accident had happened. And so we both ran over there very quickly and came upon the scene of the accident. And she was obviously taken to the emergency room so.
Jason Huddle 10:21
what happened? Exactly what the accident was it it was a head on collision, correct.
Melody Wetherbee 10:26
It was Morgan was driving it on 29 Highway 29, right there by the speedway. And she was headed toward Mallard Creek Road. And she was in the middle lane. And going the speed limit, another driver was coming the opposite direction. Apparently, from the story we've been told, weaving in and out of traffic, somehow lost control going about 80, 85 miles an hour, and hit the guardrail and which catapulted her over the median and hit Morgan head on.
Jason Huddle 11:06
And was this person insured? Were they what happened with this other person that was involved?
Melody Wetherbee 11:13
Now, to our knowledge, they have not been able to locate any insurance on her. And I just spoke with my insurance company last week, and they were still not able to find any, they there was some sort of claim that she had applied for insurance, but the company that she told them she had applied with had never heard of her. So I guess that might still be out there. But as far as we know, there was no insurance. There was no nothing she to what we've been told she had a revoked driver's license, and I don't want to get in a whole lot, because I'm not sure.
Jason Huddle 11:52
Melody Wetherbee 11:52
You know what all can be said. But this was not a first offense.
Jason Huddle 11:57
So you get to the hospital. And what did the doctors tell you?
Melody Wetherbee 12:02
Well, we I called my sister and my mom. And we we drove up to the emergency room. And, of course, we could not go in at all. We had to stay out in the parking lot because i, yeah and the COVID rules. And so we really didn't hear anything. Until I don't know Melinda What do you think it was like? Midnight maybe?
Melody Wetherbee 12:32
Yeah, it was, you know, once they had finally, I guess, gotten her stabilized. And they were getting ready to transfer her out of out of the emergency room into ICU not until then did finally a doctor come out and explain really even vaguely her injuries.
Melody Wetherbee 12:57
That we did know that she had five open fractures. So both both femur bones and her tibia, her is it the humerus fracture? Yeah. We're all open fractures coming out of her her body and so they had to get those stabilize, she had lost a lot of blood and they were trying to figure out where she was losing the blood. And so they did an exploratory abdominal surgery, they were able to find some things in there that they were able to suture up, she had a hole in the top of her rectum. And she had some other injuries that that thankfully, they didn't have to take any other organs out or anything like that. So I'm very thankful for that. She had several rib fractures, her pelvic fracture, her knee was just her right knee was just crushed. Her elbow on the left side is crushed. And then they said that after the abdominal surgery that they were able to, you know, get her stitched up and everything and back to her room. And they were doing the test with the eyes just to kind of make sure everything was okay and they noticed that there was a she was not responding to the light appropriately. her pupils were not dilating. And so they took her for a CAT scan and saw that there was bleeding on the brain and so they they took her in did an immediate surgery, craniectomy on one side, brought her back to the room. She had the same response again, they took her and had another cat scan. There was bleeding on the other side of the brain, so she had another craniectomy on the other sides of bilateral craniotomies.
Jason Huddle 14:59
Goodness, I hate to do this, I have to toss it to break. And when we come back, I want to talk about moving forward, how she's been doing. And then of course, we're going to get into this fundraiser coming up at the end of this week and how people can can help.
Melody Wetherbee 15:16
Jason Huddle 15:16
Wonderful, good. So we will be back in just a few moments after these messages from our sponsors. Stay tuned.
Jason Huddle 15:23
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. We are joined today by Melody Wetherbee and Melinda Hill they are the mother and aunt, respectively of Morgan Wetherbee who, in the last segment we heard all about the tragic, horrible accident that happened to Morgan through no fault of her own, basically caused by a careless driver with no insurance and apparently no license. which just makes me all kinds of mad. But we I guess at this point, we have to move past that right? You have to deal with the situation.
Melody Wetherbee 17:16
Melinda Hill 17:16
Jason Huddle 17:17
In those first days, you had mentioned she had double craniectomy, she had multiple compound fractures. What kind of hope are the doctors giving you in those first few days and weeks?
Melody Wetherbee 17:30
Well, they they really did not give us much hope. You know, it was it was a very bleak outlook. And they were afraid that they would not be able to get the bleeding under control. And then, as they were able to get her a little bit more stabilized. I mean, she went through Melinda, do you remember how many surgeries? I told you she went through within that first week or two?
Melinda Hill 17:58
Melody Wetherbee 17:59
Like 10 or 12?
Melinda Hill 18:01
Yeah, I mean, it was it seemed like every, every day or every other day, as soon as she became stabilized, they took her back into the OR. So I think by now she's had over 20 surgeries. But in those first couple of weeks, it was they were they were piling up pretty quickly.
Melody Wetherbee 18:19
Yeah, and so the the surgeries were doable, because she was not really conscious. And so, and they felt like she was, I guess, quote unquote, stable enough to do the surgeries. Otherwise, you know, if a person understands that they're going into surgery after surgery, it might, it might throw them into a little bit of a trauma, just that part of it. But because she was unaware of what was going on, they were trying to fix as much as they could. While she was still in that unconscious state.
Jason Huddle 18:59
We'll get into her cognizance and all that in just a second. But how is her body healing almost six months down the road.
Melody Wetherbee 19:07
Her body is is healing for sure all of the surgeries that she's had, when they were fantastic surgeons and did as best as they could with what they had to work with. The problem that we have run into now is that she she developed what's called hydor topic ossification and it is they they refer to it as HO where bone fragments start growing in your joints.
Jason Huddle 19:40
Melody Wetherbee 19:41
And then your muscles and it becomes very painful. And so the HO has taken over her left elbow and her right knee which makes it It won't it doesn't move any because of all of that. So Although the surgeries with the with all of her bones and everything have healed nicely, we are kind of running into another problem with, with the orthopedic issues because of this, HO factor, they did do radiation for her pretty aggressive radiation in hopes to slow down the HO growth and it was not successful. So the only option we have with that down the road is maybe some more surgeries. But right now they're just, that's really not their main focus.
Jason Huddle 20:35
I gotchu and their main focus actually is bringing her back to a conscious state, correct?
Melody Wetherbee 20:41
Jason Huddle 20:42
And so and Melinda, I want to pull you in here a little bit because you have actually been updating that you set up a fan page for Morgan, and you use that to update her situation, the victories, the challenges that you've had so far. So tell us a little bit about some of the things that Morgan has done to let people know that she is aware that they're there and that she is fighting?
Melinda Hill 21:13
Yeah, it really has been become, I guess, much bigger than I anticipated. When we first set up her page. You know, I was basically doing it because we were having so many people calling Melody or you know, different ones and saying, okay, do you have any updates, and so just trying to centralize everything in one location became an immediate need. And it really has been special to see how many people have just gravitated toward her story. And I feel like she would be so excited to hear about that. And to me, those little things that she has done to let people know that she's still in there are, you know, some of that sarcastic personality that melody talked about early on, if certain therapists even come into the room that she may not care for? Or if she is in a mood that day and just doesn't want to participate? Then, you know, she'll just close her eyes or not participate? You know, I think she's a she's definitely still holding on to some of that character. And so she's fighting, obviously, however, it's on her own timeline. And I think that that's been the, the thing that we have sort of held on to, wouldn't you say so Melody? I think
Melody Wetherbee 22:42
Melinda Hill 22:43
Her, you know, little, maybe cutting her eyes in a certain way, or even giving melody these looks like, no, I'm not gonna do that. And so, so, you know, in these moments where you're really grasping for any sort of sign and, and signal that she is in there, and has this hopefully ability to emerge at some point, it's like, okay, you are in there, you we have not lost Morgan, and it's a matter of time is what our prayer is that she will start to show that more and more.
Jason Huddle 23:19
So to the doctors have hope that she will improve to a point where she can communicate verbally,
Melody Wetherbee 23:27
The brain injury is a very tricky injury, because every person is different. There's, it's so hard to project, what is going to happen. And what we've been told is that because of how injured her brain is, it's going to be very unlikely that there is much response if she does emerge out of this state that she's in right now. But we just, we believe God has a different plan for her, you know, I I've prayed that, that God would this may be a hard prayer, but if he didn't want her to have a purpose right now that he would just go ahead and and take her so that she wouldn't have to suffer. But watching God continue to keep her here and to continue to stabilize her even though sometimes if it gets a little tricky, and we don't think it's going to happen. Seeing all of that then it just gives me the peace to know that he is in control of the situation. As a direct answer to your question, I I don't know what Morgan's outcome is going to be. But I have to have faith I have to have hope to continue to give her that hope and to continue to give her that positive energy as she is going through this journey.
Jason Huddle 25:01
I'm actually running up against another break. But I want to get to the core reason of why we had you ladies on today is to talk about how people can help. As we established, she was hit by an uninsured unlicensed driver. So I'm sure those medical bills are piling up fast. And because of that the community has reached out and is trying to figure out different ways in order to alleviate some of that financial stress on your family, which I think is awesome. So what I want to do is if you ladies will just stick with me through one more break. We will come back and close out the show by talking about this upcoming fundraiser at the end of the week, and also how people can help in other ways as well. Is that is that okay?
Melody Wetherbee 25:52
Melinda Hill 25:53
Jason Huddle 25:54
Wonderful, we will take one more break and we'll be back in just a moment. Stick around.
Jason Huddle 27:17
Welcome back as we close out the program, and we've been hearing this incredible story from Morgan Wetherbee. Mom and Aunt, I am so proud to live in this community because one thing we do as a community is we come together and help people when they need and Punchies Diner in Concord, who is my understanding? The owners don't even know Morgan, they had no relationship with her or your family, is that correct Malinda?
Melinda Hill 27:45
Jason Huddle 27:47
So they got a hold of her story. And they wanted to do something to help. So this Friday, October 30, they're going to basically have a bunch of Fair Food out there. And the proceeds are going to help Morgan tell us about this Melinda, I understand you're you've been working with Punchies on this. So why dont you fill us in.
Melody Wetherbee 28:09
Yeah, it was just the coolest day because you know, through this journey, we have had highs and lows. And so honestly, it was kind of a low day where maybe the doctors weren't giving us a whole lot of hope and, and that sort of thing. And then through Morgan's page, I get a message from the owner at Punchies saying, Hey, you know, we have this fair every year. And we always look for a charity of some sort to contribute to and she said, ever since Morgan story has come to my knowledge. We have been praying for her every day. And I just feel like we would love to help in some way. Is that something that you could use? And so not only on the practical side, but just on that emotional side, it was just exactly what we needed for the day to say, we are not alone. This community is wrapping their arms around us. And just so overwhelming. It was awesome and like you said yes, no connection. I mean, we've eaten at Punchies, love Punchies, but I've never even met the owner. So very, very cool.
Jason Huddle 29:17
So tell us about the event. It's gonna be I understand they're encouraging kids come out of their costumes, their spare food. What do you know about the event itself?
Melody Wetherbee 29:25
Yes, I think, you know, they're doing everything that they can to keep things safe and outdoors and have a lot of fun as well. It sounds like it's not going to be their normal food. They are gonna up it a little bit and do more fair, like cuisine. And just have an all around fun event for the community with an awesome purpose. And I think they're gonna also set up a table if people want to come over and pray for Morgan or find out more about her story. Our family is planning on being there. And so we can meet anybody that plans to come and just give us a hug or high five, or maybe a thumbs up from a distance. So we would really love to to meet all of the people who have been so involved in her story and praying.
Jason Huddle 30:19
So do you know if there's a cost for the event? And also, what time does it start?
Melody Wetherbee 30:24
There's no cost for the event itself. It's just, you know, to get in there, so there is no cost to get in, however, you would pay for your own food. And obviously, if you wanted to pay more than what the actual cost of the food is, then you can contribute that in that way as well. It does run from 5:30 to 8:30pm. So still have time to get home and getting your pajamas. Get a cup of coffee, but yes, so we'll be there on Friday night.
Jason Huddle 30:59
Wonderful. Now, tell us also if people want to help but maybe can't make it on Friday night, is there a GoFundMe or some kind of crowdsourcing site set up to help with the medical bills?
Melody Wetherbee 31:13
There is a GoFundMe, and we have been just, again, overwhelmed. So yes, we absolutely have a GoFundMe page. It is titled Morgan's recovery fund. And so far today, we have already raised almost $25,000, which is just overwhelming. It's so incredible.
Jason Huddle 31:38
Wow, that's amazing.
Melody Wetherbee 31:39
And it really is and I think the the wonderful thing is that this is there specifically to help with all of these unknown costs that we just are completely, it's new to us, you know, we don't know what insurance is going to cover. We don't know what those requirements and needs are going to be for after she gets out of the hospital and just tries to live and recover from home as an outpatient. So there's been a little bit of, you know, a question mark with how much we will actually need going forward. So that's where really, I mean, any donations are just such a huge blessing, such a huge help.
Jason Huddle 32:29
Wonderful, and we'll put the link for that site on our show notes as well. So you guys can just click on that and go contribute. Ladies, I just want to once again thank you, Melody Wetherbee and Melinda Hill, thank you so much for being on our program for telling your story. I know it's not easy to recap and kind of rehash everything that's happened over the last six months. But I know that our listeners appreciate and because this community comes together. I hope that it will result in maybe a few more dollars going into that fund or people coming out to support on Friday night.
Melinda Hill 33:08
Thank you so much and thank you to the community for everything you guys have done y'all. You have just been amazing.
Jason Huddle 33:15
And with that we will close out the program. Want to let you know that you have been listening to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine is a presentation of CabCo Media Group. It is produced and hosted by myself Jason Huddle and we are sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Eye Center, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Geico Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty, New Hope Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus. Until next week, please drive safe.