A major tragedy was avoided on June 30 when Ceres' Jacklyn Lamb, her brother Brodi Waring and his friend Patrick Miller survived a rollover car crash.
A couch sitting in the middle of Mitchell Road led to an accident that sent Waring's vehicle down an embankment near the Modesto Airport in the early morning.
Brodi and Patrick sustained minor injuries, including cuts and scrapes by the airbag deployment.
Jacklyn, who will be a sophomore at Ceres High School this fall, was ejected through the rear window and landed in shrubs. She broke her pelvis in two places. Other injuries included extensive cuts to and glass imbedded in her back, and a large gash on her right foot.
"I just remember being in the ambulance with a whole bunch of people around me," Lamb said. "I'm recovering a lot faster than they thought I would. I'm not falling behind. I get around in a wheelchair in public. I can go places."
Lamb had surgery at Doctors Medical Center. She has plates and screws in her pelvis and spine. Jacklyn spent a week in the hospital before being released.
She planned to play water polo and swim for the Bulldogs for the second straight year in 2014-15.
"When I first found out about the accident, I was pretty scared," Ceres High varsity girls water polo head coach Stephen Dias stated. "I went to see her on Saturday. She was pretty much out of it because she was on pain medication. She was alert enough to say hi. She's alive.
That's the most important thing."
"That's one of the worst parts of the whole experience," Lamb said. "I really want to get back in the water. I'm going to definitely be able to swim. I'll be fully recovered."
Jacklyn expressed her desire to return to the pool as soon as possible during Dias' visit.
Lamb might be relegated to being a statkeeper for the water polo team.
She could be permitted to participate in practices pending approval from her doctor.
"She's definitely going to be on my team still," Dias said. "She's going to be very upset if she can't play polo. We'll let the doctor decide what she can and can't do. She'll have a voice in that as well. The most important part right now is healing. I don't want her to injure herself for the rest of her life. She's more important than the game."
A longtime Ceres Dolphins recreational swim club member, Jacklyn was fortunate to not suffer brain damage or paralysis.
On the evening of June 29, Waring, Lamb and Miller went to a friend's house in Modesto to watch movies. They were returning home to Ceres on southbound Mitchell Road at about 1:30 a.m. when they came upon the couch in the dark.
Waring swerved to the left to miss the couch, then overcorrected to the right as the car sailed off the road and down an embankment. The vehicle flipped and landed on its roof against a chain-link fence bordering the airport's eastern runway.
"Obviously, I feel terrible for her and her family," Dolphins head coach Tracy Bull said. "She's a good kid. I'm not close with Jacklyn but I'm relieved she's alive. If you get ejected from a car that rolls over you should be killed. I assumed she passed away She's very lucky. If you're religious, that's God's will."
"I got a phone call from coach Dias," Bulldogs assistant water polo coach Victor Cruz said. "It was a total shock. The first thing I asked was if she was okay. She was definitely lucky. Thank God she's doing well. She's still going to be a part of the team. She really wants to play. It's probably best if she sits out the season. We're hoping for a speedy recovery."
"I don't want to minimize it (the accident)," Dias said. "It was bad. But it could have been worse. We're fortunate to still have her. She's very lucky."
Lamb experiences traumatic flashbacks when falling asleep.
"I have short panic attacks," she said.
The accident has inflicted a financial strain on the victims and their family. Family friend Kathi Foster set up a donation account for the family.
The public can assist in making donations online at http://www.gofundme.com/b2h3lk.
"I do physical therapy every few hours," Lamb said. "It's hard. You can see the progress in a short time. I'm getting better."
Courier Editor Jeff Benziger contributed to this report.