After suffering numerous severe injuries to her 10-year-old body in an Aug. 1 car accident, Breigh Brogle answers directly when asked why she won’t accept much help from others as she recovers.
“Cause I can do it on my own,” the now 11-year-old said matter-of-factly and without hesitation from her wheelchair while munching from a box of Cheez-Its at her home in Breezy Point. “I have to learn it one way or the other.”
In fact, Breigh and her mother, Dana Roen, agreed to share their story about Breigh’s recovery on one condition.
“We don’t want it to be a ‘poor me’ story as it is a story of an amazingly strong little girl,” Roen wrote in an email. “And we are in no way looking for anybody’s sympathy. In fact, that kinda drives her nuts! She very much has a ‘this is the way I am now’ attitude and doesn’t want to be treated any different than she was before.”
After a fun-filled day spent touring the North Shore on Aug. 1, Breigh, brother Christian, 7, and Roen were returning home late that night after stopping to feed their horses nearby. Roen became distracted by a tailgating vehicle that she said was passing on her right, and she turned left off County Road 11 in Breezy Point directly into the path of an oncoming car.
All involved escaped with cuts and bruises, except Breigh. She ended up with a broken pelvis, tailbone, collarbone, ribs and leg, as well as multiple fractures in her face. She broke most of the bones in her left foot, punctured a lung, lost six upper teeth and suffered a brain injury that affected her vision.
Roen emphasized that the accident wasn’t the fault of the teen who hit them, and she thanks that teen’s friends who were in another vehicle and occupied Christian while Roen fought to save Breigh’s life.
Breigh was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale where she was expected to be for several months. Instead, after 28 days in the hospital, including the last five at Gillette’s Children’s Hospital in St. Paul to learn how to use the wheelchair and care for herself at home, Breigh returned home Aug. 29.
Roen said Breigh was bed-ridden and in pain, and two weeks later wheeled herself out the hospital doors, onto the ramp and into the truck to return home.
“If this girl says, ‘I can do it,’ I’m not going to hold her back,” her mother said.
The last week of September, Breigh returned to school for half days, learning her way around Pequot Lakes Middle School as a fifth-grader. A week later, she returned to school for full days.
“She was very, ‘I want to go full days, Mom.’ This is her gig. She knows her body,” Roen said, noting with a smile that while Breigh can make her own decisions, Roen retains veto power.
Breigh doesn’t necessarily like venturing out of the new fifth-grade wing down the eighth-grade hallway to the library and keyboard room, but she does it in her wheelchair, saying, “Beep, beep. Mind your toes.”
Breigh is a member of the Pequot Lakes Girl Scout Troop 37, and appreciated when fellow scouts showed up at a benefit held for her family Sept. 22. Her mom said Breigh was nervous for her friends to see her, and it was a huge step.
Roen calls Breigh her “million and 30 dollar baby,” because medical expenses are topping $1 million, and a tube of Mederma scar cream costs $30. She expressed sincere appreciation and thanks to all who attended or donated to the benefit, as well as to the emergency personnel who responded to the accident.
A bubbly and energetic Breigh continues to heal and will have to learn to walk again when she can bear weight on her pelvis. Her vision has returned to normal, her bright pink leg cast is off and she doesn’t sit for long before she wheels freely around her home, scooping up pet cat Charlie to cuddle.
The family adopted Charlie last spring when they found him with their horses. Through chores, Breigh worked off the cost for litter, food, shots and neutering. In fact, Roen brought Charlie and her boyfriend’s dog, Bob, to the hospital to visit Breigh.
“Some of the best medicine was when her animals and best friend (Tate Lodermeier) came down,” Roen said.
“It’s by God’s good graces that my daughter is here,” she said. “She’s got gumption.”