Family of teenage accident victim adjust to new life

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Grand Rapids, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids teenager is back home recovering after spending nearly eight months in the hospital following a car accident.

Mirelis Culbeaux, 15, was a student at Forest Hills Northern High School. Her mom, who goes by the same name, said she can’t wait to get home and all that comes with high school. On July 6 of last year, a car accident on US-131 in Grand Rapids changed Culbeaux’s entire life.

Around 3:30 a.m., police responded to a single vehicle accident on the highway. Culbeaux was thrown from the car and suffered serious brain and head injuries. She also had severe damage to her eye socket, which caused her to lose an eye. Her 15-year-old boyfriend, who was also in the car that morning, died in the crash. Police say there were also two other teenagers in the car at the time of the crash, but they got away unharmed.

The driver, Ryan Michael Carter, 27, now faces multiple charges, including impaired driving causing death/injury and fleeing the scene. He was arrested but has since been released on bail. Carter will be back in court in April for a jury trial.

Mirelis Roque, Culbeaux’s mother, says the whole thing felt unfair and she hopes Carter will be held accountable in court.

“I am never angry. I was never mad at the driver, just a lot of frustration,” said Roque, whose mother tongue is Spanish.

In the meantime, Roque is struggling to adjust to her and her daughter’s new life now that she’s been released from the hospital. She says since the sinking, her daughter has had a dozen surgeries to insert a feeding tube, drain fluid from her brain, insert screws and titanium plates into her face and jaw and reconstruct her cavity. ocular. Culbeaux cannot walk or speak, as his brain currently has limited function. Roque says she’s not sure what doctors can do to improve her teenager’s condition.

“That’s the million dollar question. At this point, I’m not asking too much. I’m telling you up front, I live one day at a time. I’m doing everything possible but only God knows that answer” , said the mother.

Roque remodeled his house/living room to accommodate his daughters’ new disabilities. She said she now needed a disabled-friendly vehicle to take the 15-year-old to her appointments. She said she was hoping to find a used vehicle to sell. Roque is also looking for a sturdy hospital bed that will better prevent her daughter from falling. She said finding him as a patient was incredibly difficult because most companies don’t sell the bed she needs to individuals, only to hospitals and medical care facilities.

“The problem with the bed is that she can’t move. She must stay safe. You never know if she moves all night and I don’t want her to fall,” she said.

Along with becoming a full-time caretaker, Roque said medical bills have piled up. She said the surgeries Culbeaux required in the first few weeks of recovery were over $200,000. She said she is now looking at costs of more than $1 million, in part due to changes to Michigan’s auto insurance laws that cap the amount her insurance agency is required to pay. She is now advocating for lawmakers to make changes for other families struggling with costly long-term recovery like her daughter.

“Medicaid doesn’t cover a lot of things because when the accident happened, it was a no-fault accident. Insurance doesn’t cover some of it,” she said.

Roque said she hopes to see the driver brought to justice next month and wants other children to learn from his family’s tragedy.

“I want other kids to know the consequence when you don’t do the right things or the consequence when you don’t select good people around you,” Roque said in tears. “My daughter suffered the consequences.”

The family has a GoFundMe to help them pay their medical bills. Mirelis Roque asked that people who have information about used vehicles adapted for the disabled or solid hospital beds contact her on her Facebook page. His profile is public.

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