Horrific crash no match for ‘hyper-competitive’ student

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MOLALLA, Ore. (KOIN) — Six months ago, Ana Wakefield was nearly killed in a head-on hit-and-run crash near Damascus. There’s still no arrests in the case, but the 21-year-old Multnomah University basketball player is staying positive as she fights each day to recover.

Ana is undergoing physical therapy 6 days a week as she fights to get her life back. She’s had to relearn everything — talking, eating, walking.

Ana Wakefield, left, on April 18, 2018 and on the right in the days after a head-on hit-and-run crash nearly killed her in October 2017 (Courtesy: Dave Wakefield)

But she’s making huge progress. And after what she’s been through, her family said it’s miraculous.

“It’s a miracle,” her dad, Dave Wakefield, told KOIN 6 News. “I know talking to all the doctors and the therapists, what they are seeing with her it just defies the odds. I attribute some to our faith and the people around her, the village.”

The crash and the aftermath

On October 18, she was on Highway 212 driving to basketball practice at Multnomah University when, police said, a hit-and-run driver in an SUV slammed into her Toyota Camry head-on. 

The driver of the Explorer (left) ran off after slamming into this Toyota and critically injuring a 20-year-old Ana Wakefield from Damascus on Hwy 212, October 18, 2017 (OSP)

The SUV driver ran away.

For 2 weeks, Ana’s family didn’t know if she would live or die. She spent those 2 week in the Intensive Care Unit and and her left side was paralyzed for the 2 months she spent in the hospital. Since the crash she’s had 5 brain surgeries and now has titanium rods in both legs.

Just a half-year later, she’s walking again and working hard to build her physical and mental strength.

Ana doesn’t remember the crash and she said she’s grateful for that. 

“I’ve been hyper-competitive since I was little and I will not quit. I will not say no,” Ana told KOIN 6 News on Thursday. “Everyone who knows me knows I will work hard and go get what I want.”

Imprinted on her sweatshirt are the words “Fight like Ana.” She said it’s because people “want to remember to have that tenacity, like, hey, push yourself to go farther than you think you can.”

Her dad said he’s a fighter, too.

“I told her I’m taking a year sabbatical. I will walk right beside her. We’ll do whatever it takes to get it back.”

Ana Wakefield, 20, is a junior at Multnomah University as seen on Oct. 19, 2017. (Courtesy of Multnomah University)

She’s taking it one day at a time, but she dreams of playing basketball again. Down the road she’d like to become a teacher.

“I want to get finished up with all this therapy, get back to healthy and finish up getting my degree and my basketball playing,” Ana said.

But she knows her brain and body need more time to rebuild and heal. She’s also grateful for the love and support from the community.

“I’m really learning how deep people’s love runs for each other and what they will do for people they really care about,” she said.

“She just shines hope,” her dad Dave said. “Her smile is contagious and you know when you walk out there and realize life has given you something terrible, you can either quit and give up or pick up the pieces and move forward and keep working hard and good things happen.” 

The Oregon State Police said the hit-and-run case is coming to a conclusion and will likely go to a grand jury this month.

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