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Comatose car crash victim clings to life

— When a young life ends abruptly because of illness, accident or murder, the tragedy of a life unlived haunts us all.

Could there possibly be anything worse?

Ask that question of Kristin Conway’s friends and family members. She had studied to become a medical assistant, but last fall her 28-year-old life essentially came to an end.  But it didn’t.

After a bone-crushing auto accident in which her brain stem was injured, Kristin fell into a coma. Neurosurgeons at Upstate University Hospital told the family that the young woman would never regain consciousness. Never.

Ill-fated U-turn

The crash which changed Kristin’s life occurred Friday, Oct. 6, on State Route 365 in the town of Verona, not far from the Turning Stone Casino. Kristin’s best friend, Amanda Trepasso, was driving. She tried to make a U-turn and, in so doing, steered her car into the path of an oncoming sport utility vehicle. Police say Trepasso failed to yield the right of way.

The SUV, driven by a 22-year-old man, slammed into the passenger side of Trepasso’s car, where Conway was sitting.

Kristin nearly died at the scene.

Emergency crews used the Jaws of Life to free her from the mangled automobile and she was transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica. The accident injured Kristin so seriously in so many ways it’s upsetting to list them all. She suffered a lacerated liver, a broken femur, two broken hips, a collapsed lung and, worse yet, severe brain damage.

Once she stabilized, Kristin was flown to Upstate University Hospital ICU. No one on the medical staff offered any hope. Kristin’s very survival remained questionable, and the doctors were sure she’d remain in a comatose state for the rest of her life.

Nevertheless, she underwent surgery to repair her broken femur and hips. Surgeons also installed a stomach tube and tracheostomy. Five weeks after the car crash, she was transferred to Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in Schenectady.

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