Happy to be alive: Fallon pair face long recovery after accident of frigid night

Stephanie Carroll Nevada Apeal News ServiceErica Behimer stands in front of her deceased grandmother's portrait. Behimer said she had visions of her grandmother, Janet Kirch, while waiting to be rescued after a car accident.

Stephanie Carroll Nevada Apeal News ServiceErica Behimer stands in front of her deceased grandmother's portrait. Behimer said she had visions of her grandmother, Janet Kirch, while waiting to be rescued after a car accident.

After dinner and meeting with friends, Erica Behimer and Will Hybarger decided it was about time to go home late on a frigid Friday night one week ago.

When Behimer woke up, she was cold. She was on the ground. She couldn't move.

"I did try to get up 10 times," Behimer said. "I needed to go over to Will, and I needed to get over to that vehicle because it was putting out heat."

She saw the cab of the truck smashed, all twisted metal. She could hear Hybarger yelling from the other side of the vehicle.

"I was so scared, I was scared of dying," Hybarger said. "I was scared Erica was hurt. I didn't know where she was. I had yelled for her, and I couldn't hear anything."

Consciousness came and went. The sound of a car driving near then fading away.

"We heard a couple of cars go by, and we were yelling," Behimer recalled.

Behimer curled into a fetal position and tucked herself into her sweatshirt to try to collect heat from her breath. Hybarger had taken off his coat in the car, so he laid in the snow with only a T-shirt on, unable to curl up. Hybarger said the most he could do was pull his shirt over his head trying to collect his breath as well.

"I was so cold and terrified," Hybarger remembered. "I just didn't want to die. I wasn't done. I wasn't ready."

As the hours passed, their minds began to trick them. Behimer was glad to see her husband, Bryant and her three young boys, but they weren't real. She saw her grandmother, Janet Kirch, but she had died.

"All night long, deceased family members - we were both having hallucinations about them," Behimer said. "Whether they were hallucinations or not - who knows."

Hybarger saw his father, Dave, who passed away a year and a half ago.

"I remember him there that night, but I don't remember how or anything he said."

Behimer said their loved ones carried them through the night.

"It made the time pass at least because you didn't know how long you were dreaming," Behimer said. "It didn't seem like we were out there for a long time."

Suddenly a woman - a nurse appeared.

An ambulance rushed them to Banner Churchill Community Hospital's emergency room. Behimer said her core body temperature was about 95 degrees and Hybarger's about 90 degrees. She said BCCH doesn't treat severe trauma, so the Longhorn Search and Rescue team from Naval Air Station Fallon flew them to Reno. Behimer was shocked to learn she had a broken back, fractured neck, two fractured ribs, a fractured shoulder bone and frostbite on her hands.

"I honestly didn't think I was as bad as I was," Behimer said. "I didn't realize anything was broken."

Hybarger had two broken legs, a bruised lung and frostbite on his hands, feet and back. Both needed surgery.

Behimer and Hybarger crashed near Indian Lakes Road and Harmon Road. Hybarger's mother, Gayle, said the car landed far enough off the road to make it difficult for other drivers to see them. They laid in the snow in 19 degree weather until about 6 a.m. Saturday.

Behimer doesn't remember who was driving, but she said neither she nor Hybarger were intoxicated. She said the roads were plowed, but they lost control of Hybarger's truck.

"We just rolled and rolled and rolled," Behimer said. "I can't remember that. I remember headlights shooting at the sagebrush coming at us."

Behimer returned home from Reno Wednesday, but she has to wear a neck and back brace and use a walker. She is still in tremendous pain.

Hybarger will not be allowed to leave the hospital until he can put weight on his legs, Behimer said. Gayle said Hybarger's recovery will take four to six months.

"He's in for a long haul," Gayle predicted. "He's going to be OK, but it's going to be a long haul. He won't be able to walk really well till then, so he won't be working for a long time."

Hybarger said he is scared about the recovery, but he is happy to be alive.

Behimer, director of the Lahontan Valley Environmental Alliance and Oasis Stampede, is heavily involved in the community, so after the accident people were constantly offering help. Several friends also set up an account for donations at Wells Fargo.

"I have insurance," Behimer said. "I have a good job at LVEA. The city and county are really supportive of me. I'll have a job when I'm ready to come back, but Will was part of it, too. If someone wants to do something for me, they can help by doing something to help him. He needs help. He needs financial support. He needs to get back on his feet."

To donate, go to a local Wells Fargo branch or call 775-250-5754 for instructions on how to make a deposit from another bank. Cards for Hybarger can be sent to 7007 Leter Road, Fallon, NV 89406.


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