Precious McCalebb loved caring for others. The certified nursing assistant had just started her new job Oct. 16, 2020 as a caregiver at Magnolia Manor in Richmond Hill and Midway. She was working the graveyard shift from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. the evening of Halloween so the 21-year-old, CNA dressed up in costume to cheer up the residents at the Richmond Hill location.
“The last thing I remember was being in the ambulance and telling the paramedics to tell my mother I love her,” McCalebb said. “Tell my brother I love him and tell my family I love them. Next thing I know I woke up in the hospital, it was all like one big dream for me. I couldn’t remember the surgeries. I couldn’t remember the accident. I don’t even remember what the older man looked like. I didn’t even know he was driving on the wrong side of the road. It was just like one big old dream for me.”
On the morning of Nov. 1, around 6:30 a.m., McCalebb was driving home after work. According to Georgia State Patrol Trooper, Marvin Frazier a white Honda Acura driven by an elderly male was traveling in the wrong direction on Leroy Coffer Highway and hit McCalebb’s light blue Hyundai Sonata, head on.
The man was killed. McCalebb was transported by ambulance to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah.
Her mom, Taeboni McGill said she got a call about the accident and rushed to the hospital only to find out that her daughter was in surgery after her lungs collapsed.
“I could barely breath,” McGill said. “I wanted to see my child up and moving and I couldn’t see that. She had tubes in her mouth and bandages everywhere and was barely responsive. It’s hard to see your child like that and also come to the realization that a lot of things are not going to be the same. It hurt more than anything.”
McCalebb spent three weeks in the intensive care unit and underwent several surgeries to her leg, pelvis, and had rods placed in her arm. When she was released from the hospital prior to Thanksgiving she was wheelchair bound but has since started physical therapy and now walks with a cane.
But the road to long-term recovery is still far away, with more surgeries scheduled to repair her legs and wrist. And the medical bills are mounting.
“It’s almost one million dollars so far,” McCalebb said.
While McCalebb had car insurance, the driver who caused the accident was uninsured. And McCalebb was not yet eligible for medical insurance at her place of employment.
“I am broke and in debt,” she said adding she is trying to apply for Medicaid, Food Stamps and Social Security insurance because she is unable to work for the time being.
McCalebb said she was independent, living in her own apartment and starting to come into her own but the accident changed all that.
“I had to give up everything,” she said adding she now lives at her mom’s house again. “At first, I felt depressed, I felt like let me die now. I thought I would be a burden on them. But the accident wasn’t my fault. I know some people that have it way worse than me. It’s something that I will have to deal with, but I am grateful to be here. It sucks but I’m alive. It’s getting better but I’m just taking it one day at a time. And being grateful for just being alive.”
McGill, who is also a home healthcare provider, said her faith got her through the rough spots, especially while her daughter was still in the hospital.
“God first in everything,” McGill said. She added she listened to the doctors who offered encouragement.
“It was hope, faith and good people,” she said.
The doctors told her that her daughter’s recovery would take a long time and she more than likely will remain somewhat disabled.
“It was heartbreaking to hear that,” McGill said. “When they tell you that your 21-year-old is going to be disabled, that is something you just don’t want to hear after watching her be a live and vibrant girl who loved doing what she loved to do.”
Despite having a background as a healthcare provider McGill said they went through tough times after McCalebb was released.
“We were back at square one like having a fresh baby,” she said. “She has got a lot of rehabilitation ahead.”
“My wonderful neighbor from across the street set up a Go fund me,” McCalebb said. “I am grateful for it…right now I have nothing.”
To donate visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/precious-m-frontline-worker-critically-injured