This has been a week of thanksgiving and celebration for the Henery family, as well as the Creighton community as Alexa Henery returned home and to school nearly two months after a critical car accident.
On Friday, Oct. 2, Alexa Henery was involved in a one-vehicle accident on her way to school between Center and Creighton. Alexa had to be cut out by the Jaws of Life and transported by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa.
She was in a coma for six days and underwent surgery to put plates in both her humorous and clavicle bones a week after the accident, according to her father, Don Henery. She was then transported again to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln where she spent six weeks rehabilitating until her family was able to bring her home last Friday.
“The traumatic brain injuries were by far the most serious," said Don Henery, "There were two locations in her brain that were injured. That will take the longest out of everything to recover from. She’ll do outpatient therapy months down the road yet because of the brain injuries.”
Alexa, a junior at Creighton High School, returned to school on Monday for the first time in seven weeks.
“It seems like she is adjusting well and going about her day as if she normally would – as if she has always been here, even though she is not here for a full day yet. It has been very normal to have her back. The kids treat her as if she was never gone,” said Principal Jolene Dredge.
Community support was evident immediately via social media.
“We started the ‘Prayers for Lexi’ page on Facebook the day after her accident. We invited friends, family and anybody that wanted to follow her journey. We also put it out there that we need their prayers," said her mother, Tammy Henery.
There are now more than 2,400 members in the “Prayers for Lexi” Facebook page.
“Just the kindness and comments people showed us and let us know that they not were praying for Alexa, but also our family," Tammy Henery said. "That was very helpful. It was strength for us and our children and our grandkids We all needed that.”
The Henerys estimated that there were 60-80 people in the waiting rooms of Mercy Hospital during the six days following the accident.
“We had an outpouring of visitors the six day that we were there from all of northeast Nebraska – the Creighton community, these other communities in Knox County as well as professionals that we work with, the friends we have and our family," Don Henery said.
The outreach and support also extended beyond the local community. While the Henery family waited in the hospital, an anonymous couple ordered sandwiches for them. A family friend from Center, Dawn Johnson and her husband sent food from Minneapolis as well.
“It reached across the Midwest; it wasn’t just a local thing," Don Henery said.
The Henery family said they were grateful for all the support they have received and hope to pay if forward to someone else who may be in the same position.
“I hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does, that we can step forward and repay some of the gratitude and kindness from the support we got,” Don Henery said.
Alexa Henery and her family continue to find the good in this experience.
“Too many times, you see the bad things in news. You don’t see the good things. If anything comes away from this, I want people to know there are good things that happen out here. It’s not always bad things that have to make the news,” Don Henery said.
While Alexa has made significant progress, there is still a long road to recovery. However, she continues to remain positive.
“This accident was a blessing in disguise,” Alexa said. “Amazing things happened from this accident. I couldn’t be any more thankful.