McCarthy's injuries might not have been life-threatening but they have been life-changing. The private-duty nurse has not been able to work and is taking longer than expected to recover.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The woman struck in what police characterized as a hit-and-run accident last October is a long way from being able to walk, let alone run, herself.
Wendy McCarthy was struck by a vehicle outside her home on Cold Spring Road (Route 7) on Oct. 1.
The same news release that called the incident a hit-and-run also characterized her injuries as "serious, non-life threatening." And that was technically true. Prompt response by emergency personnel ensured that McCarthy's life was not in danger when she was admitted to the hospital.
But that life has never been the same.
"The first operation was the emergency surgery, and then a week later she had to have some more hardware put in her leg," Wendy's husband, Rob, said this week. "Her leg still is not weight-bearing. ..
"It's been really difficult for her. She's basically housebound. She can get around in a walker by going on one leg, but she can't put any weight on the other leg."
The doctors originally told her it would be at least six months to a year before she would be able to walk again. But so far her leg is not showing signs of recovery at the pace doctors hoped for, Rob said.
He describes his wife as "tough," a nurse who, at the time of the accident, was doing private-duty work caring for her mother-in-law, who died in December. Rob ran his own business, doing forestry work that normally takes him out of town for long stretches.
Since the accident, that option has been off the table, and no income has been coming into the home.
"This just caught her with me being not part of a business where they would help take care of things if something happened, and she wasn't working for a business, either, doing the private duty work," he said. "We've used up all our savings.
"We're not extravagant people, but we've been married for 33 years, and you build up certain things — and suddenly there's no income. We're going into our retirement savings, and that kills you because you only get 50 percent."
The medical costs incurred by the accident long ago surpassed the $100,000 maximum on her insurance policy, and the household costs don't stop when the paychecks do, Rob notes.
"We're running low on money and have to make decisions about food and medicine," he said. "About how much money you're going to take out of retirement. It becomes a difficult situation."
It started with the couple enjoying a quiet evening at home when Rob received a call from his brother, whose wife is a state trooper and heard about a cat in the road near the McCarthy's home.
"When Travas called me, my wife ran out there because she did not want the cat to get smushed," Rob said.
Wendy wore what Rob described as fluorescent pants and carried a spotlight that "shows for like a mile," but she was struck by a southbound vehicle after retrieving the animal.
"Thank God I was coming out the door to help and the next car coming down the road saw her and stopped," he said. "She didn't have the light anymore. It went flying. And she was lying in the road. The next car easily could have hit her, and that would have been the end of it."
The emergency medical technicians came and brought Wendy to the hospital to begin a long road to recovery that continues to this day.
Rob McCarthy says that even his friends still do not appreciate the full extent of Wendy's injuries or the toll it has taken on the family.
"I talk to people and they say, 'Oh, I thought it was a minor thing,' " he said. "I tell them, 'No, she had a chance of losing her leg.' People don't know the story."
Some do, and many have responded to a Gofundme.com page set up to help the McCarthys. Rob appreciates the contributions but knows that the charity of friends and neighbors is unlikely to put a dent in the more than $130,000 goal set for the page.
"There are funds here and there, and that helps us for one month, but it's really a one-time thing unless you get lucky, get found by someone out there who has a lot of money," he said. "Obviously, we're not looking to get rich on this, but we're not looking to get into a hole we can't get out of, either."
More than a week after the accident, Williamstown Police announced the arrest of a 34-year-old Williamstown woman in the case. The police credited the accused with reaching out to authorities after hearing about their investigation.
McCarthy said he does not think the accused is a bad person, and he bears her no animosity, but he was frustrated when he read an account of a court hearing last month where the accused driver said she thought she had hit a deer.
"That's what angers me the most," he said. "If you think you hit a deer and your driver's mirror is ripped off, and you're not sure you hit a deer but you think you did, wouldn't you stop? That's the part I have a problem with.
"Wendy could easily have been run over. Thank God we got out there, and the other car stopped."
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