For safety's sake

Local teacher educates students on helmet importance after her own traumatic accident

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The day she can't remember is the day she won't ever forget.

On June 26, 1992, Misty Jones, then 17 and a recent high school graduate, was rollerblading along an Aspen bike path with two friends. She lost control coming down a hill, crossed her feet and fell backwards, cracking her skull on the ground.

Or at least that's what she's told.

"From that point on, I don't remember anything," Jones said.

Now, nearly 15 years later, Jones still feels the consequences of her choice to not wear a helmet that day. And it's a decision she is determined to make sure others don't repeat.

Jones said she knew better, and had been warned about the dangers. Shortly before her accident, Jones promised her father she would wear a helmet.

But, she wanted her hair to look nice.

Plus, her friends didn't wear helmets.

"Of all the things I regret from the accident ... that's the thing I regret the most -- for being stupid and not wanting a bad hair day," Jones said.

The decision left Jones with a broken skull, bruised brain in the front and back, swelling and fluid build-up. The first memory Jones has after the accident is watching fireworks on the Fourth of July after a week in the hospital.

But everything seemed fuzzy until August when Jones -- against doctors' recommendations -- headed to Colorado State University to begin her freshman year.

Throughout that year, Jones attended neuropsychological therapy, biofeedback, motor-skills training and physical therapy sessions to regain full function. For a few months following the accident, Jones had trouble walking with her right leg and gripping objects with her left arm.

Even today, Jones has no sense of smell and does not have flavor association. She can eat ice cream, for example, and know it's sweet but not recognize the flavor.

"I remember being told a lot, 'It's going to take a long time to get your brain back to where it needs to be,'" Jones said. "I remember being driven by it. I had to work harder to accomplish things."

Now a fifth-grade teacher at Craig Intermediate School, Jones said she's satisfied with how her life has developed since then. She hopes her story helps others avoid accidents like hers that can be fatal.

"Even though I have a success story, they aren't always successful," Jones said. "Preventing it is a lot better than having to deal with the consequences."

While in college, Jones presented information on helmet safety to elementary school students in hopes of preventing a similar accident. Now, she relays that information to her fifth-graders and 1- and 3-year-old daughters.

She hopes by doing so she's saving others the trauma she experienced.

"I'm really lucky that I did survive and I'm OK," Jones said. "But it could be a lot worse."

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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