A rescue chopper was called to respond to the accident. Jay Curry, an Emergency Medical Services professional for almost 15 years, describes the horrific scene. "It was definitely one of the worst accidents that I have been to. There was just a massive amount of debris spread out over a fairly large area. They had shut down the interstate for us to land."
An official on the scene found Laura's purse next to Whitney. Coroner Ron Mowery explains what he believes happened next. "Someone apparently put an identification of Laura Van Ryn with the injured Whitney Cerak—and Whitney became Laura."
Jay was directed to help the injured young woman. "It was our understanding that we were transporting Laura Van Ryn," Jay says. "She wasn't able to respond to us at all."
Brianna McCard, an intensive care unit nurse, says the patient was categorized a Level 1 Trauma. "With her traumatic brain injury, swelling is extremely dangerous," she says. "The longer the brain swells, the more chances of brain death."
Miraculously, ER doctors were able to stabilize Whitney—who they believed to be Laura. They transferred her to the intensive care unit, and Laura's family was notified of what they believed to be their daughter's status.