Fay Harris – Faith and True Grit Define This Survivor

Fay Harris has always been an active community volunteer and a respected professional in the hotel, radio, tv, and sports industries. She joins Jan Swift on this episode of Discover Lafayette to discuss how her faith in God and belief in the power of prayer are the essential components in her recovery from a life-threatening accident.

On the morning of September 25, 2018, at 7:30 a.m. as she drove down I-10 West on the Atchalafaya Bridge on the way to her job at The Blake in Lafayette, Fay remembers looking at the beautiful sunrise, one of her favorite sights. Then, she experienced the inexplicable: a large crane spontaneously fell on the hood of her vehicle, shoving the dashboard and steering wheel forward, pinning her in, crushing her legs and causing internal injuries. But, she survived. It was a miracle. Luckily, she has no memory of the incident.

A construction crane fell on the hood of Fay Harris’s vehicle on September 25, 2018, as she drove to work on I-10. It’s a miracle that she survived and she attributes her faith in God and the 76 healthcare professionals and emergency responders for her recovery. Photo by La. State Police.

The vehicles traveling behind Fay’s car were able to stop before rear-ending her. A woman a few cars behind her called 911 to report the accident; when the operator asked her if she knew how many people were in the crushed car, she walked over to the scene and realized it was her neighbor and friend, Fay Harris. This bit of serendipity enabled Fay’s husband, Locke, to be notified quickly and he was able to join Fay at Lafayette General where she was airlifted, once the St. Martin Parish Fire Department cut her out of her car.

Over the next seventeen days, Fay endured five surgeries and she spoke highly of her orthopedic trauma surgeon, Dr. Blaine Walton of Lafayette General Health, as well as her entire healthcare team. The major injuries sustained were to her legs, particularly her left leg which had to be rebuilt to repair the compound fractures to her femur and tibia using rods and plates.

One of the most difficult moments in her hospital stay was when Dr. Walton told Fay that it would be four to six months before she would be able to stand and walk. Being an active runner and exercise lover, this was her worst nightmare. But by mid-December 2018, Fay stood up in Dr. Walton’s office. She was walking with the aid of a walker by mid-January 2019 and soon thereafter with the aid of a cane which she still uses due to the extensive damage to her left leg.

Through the ordeal, Fay remained calm and optimistic. She credits the outstanding work of all the 76 healthcare professionals and emergency rescue responders for her recovery, and during the interview, Fay tearfully recounted how she hopes telling her story will encourage healthcare providers to continue their service in the medical industry. It can be difficult working with trauma patients and many times the outcome is not good. She tells them, “Just keep doing it. You save lives.” Megan Wyatt of The Advocate shared Fay’s touching story of her admiration for all her healthcare providers which may be read here.

Fay also has a secret weapon she has relied upon in her recovery: her faith in God. She believes that we all go through things for a reason and her message is simple and profound: “Be positive and open to being used by Him for His purposes.”

“I couldn’t have gotten through this without God. The fact that I was in good shape facilitated my healing, but I could never have gotten through this without my faith.

I also now understand that life is short. I now try to live each day as if it’s my last. I still have things on my bucket list and I’m going to do them, I’m not putting things off anymore.”

Physical therapy, and especially Pilates, has been extremely helpful in Fay’s recovery. She has “graduated” from several physical therapists as she improved in mobility and is currently a patient of Alix Sorrel, a board-certified Orthopedic Physical Therapy Specialist who owns Integrated Physical Therapy in Lafayette. Alix utilizes Pilates in her therapy and rehabilitation techniques, which focus on stretching and core abdominal work. Fay explained that while her bones have healed, the extensive cutting of muscle and tissue by the surgeon as he placed plates and rods in Fay’s left leg have left her with a leg that will take a long time to heal. She credits Pilates for its miraculous healing properties as she gets stronger and more agile.

Always an active and athletic person, Fay enjoyed Extreme Sports and especially has fond memories of the South Island in New Zealand where she and her husband, Locke, would skydive, Bungee jump, hike, and scuba dive when they were living in Malaysia. A runner who has always loved the outdoors, she remains an active member of Red Lerille’s Health and Racquet Club, in excellent health, strong and vibrant. While she has set no timetable as to when she feels she may be back at full capacity, she is optimistic about her future and looks forward to the day when she no longer needs a cane.

Discover Lafayette thanks Fay Harris for sharing her story of faith, determination, and optimism! As she said as we closed out the interview, “People are good. I’m very grateful for everyone who has been a part of my journey.”

We hope Fay’s message inspires others who may be struggling in life to know that people are good. God is good!