Head-on Collision in Frazier Park Leaves One in Critical Condition

  • Kern County firefighters work to free Gigi Day from her vehicle after a head-on collision with an armored truck on Frazier Mountain Park Road. [Photo by Gary Meyer]

    Kern County firefighters work to free Gigi Day from her vehicle after a head-on collision with an armored truck on Frazier Mountain Park Road. [Photo by Gary Meyer]

NOTICE: BLOOD DRIVE SCHEDULED for Saturday, Dec. 6, from 12 noon to 4 p.m., to benefit Gigi Day. Houchin Blood Bank, which supplies Kern Medical Center, will take blood donations at their mobile blood bank in the parking lot of The Mountain Enterprise. Call 245-3794 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday this week to make an appointment for Saturday. Download the Gigi Day Blood Drive Flyer and distribute it to everyone you think might help by donating blood. CONFESSION FROM A ‘NEEDLE COWARD’: I don’t like being poked with a needle and I don’t like the idea of having blood taken from my body. But when I think about the pain that Gigi Day is in right now, I find it impossible to worry about a brief pin-prick. Gigi has multiple broken bones and fractures, in addition to internal injuries and internal bleeding. As our editor said: "I haven’t done it before, but I’ll be the first in line to donate." —Gary Meyer, Publisher

(See below for latest updates on Gigi Day’s progress)

UPDATE (Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 3:30 p.m.)—Gigi Day went into surgery and came back to the ICU at Kern Medical Center by 2 p.m. today. “They did a cleaning and closing operation on her ankle,” Bill Day reports. He describes this as a “holding action” with internal bracing, surrounded by an external splint. She is awake now and “feeling good,” he said, adding that her right eye was scratched
but the doctor said it will heal and she will be able to track and use it. She is currently sporting a gauze patch over that eye. Gigi is expected to be in ICU through the end of the week. They are watching closely for signs of pneumonia. She is getting stronger and the doctors have gained confidence in her ability to continue to improve.

UPDATE (Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 a.m.)Doctors cancelled hip replacement surgery yesterday after orthopedists examined Gigi Day’s smashed right ankle bones. They discovered the tibia of her right leg was broken and put it into a cast Monday, then worked on a strategy for reassembling the ankle. She will go into surgery today. Bill Day reports: "They say they will entubate and sedate her again. There will be pins and a rod in her ankle, sort of an external jungle gym around her ankle for awhile." She is having some breathing problems this week, "so they have kicked up her oxygen," Day reports, adding, "but her smile is fully recovered."  He noted that her whitle blood cell count is up and hospital staff are  checking for signs of pneumonia. "But she’s still scheduled for surgery of the ankle today between 11 a.m. to noon, after which she will be in the Intensive Care Unit again for observation.

Bill Day was able to make a quick run up to the towing yard in Lebec to see her car Tuesday. He found the car keys crushed from the impact and took some photos to show her the car. "Just looking at the keys and the photos, she says it is a miracle she is alive. Despite all her injuries, Gigi keeps telling the nurses and all the medical staff how lucky she is."

UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m.)—Gigi Day was taken off the respirator yesterday (although she is still receiving oxygen) and has been scheduled for hip replacement surgery on Thursday. Her hip was broken in three places, according to husband Bill Day. Gigi is responding remarkably well as she comes back to consciousness after being heavily sedated. She is now able to smile and even joke a little with the ICU nurse and her husband. Her pancreas is injured, as is her liver, according to Day. Doctors attended to those problems in surgery on Wednesday and are hopeful that the organs will return to normal function as she heals. Stitches will be removed from her face today, but there is a cheekbone fracture that may require additional surgery. A team of orthopedic surgeons will be checking  to develop a strategy for mending a crushed ankle and she has a patch on one eye, which will be examined by a specialist on Wednesday. Bill Day reports the medical staff told him they had doubts about Gigi making it through the night last Wednesday, but they are now gaining confidence in her ability to recover. Bill just smiles and says, "Good. They are coming around to our way of thinking…."

UPDATE (Sunday, Nov. 30 at 10:20 a.m.)—Gigi Day continues in serious but stable condition today. Bill Day arrived at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. He says Gigi was taken off the respirator just now, Sunday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. "That was a big sign I was waiting for; that means that she is breathing on her own and is getting good oxygen transfer," Day said. Gigi is intermittently conscious, and aware that her sons and husband are there with her.

Bill Day and the family said they are excited about the community’s blood drive. Bill will try to be in Frazier Park Saturday, Dec. 6 to donate blood and talk with people. He will also try to attend the Thursday, Dec. 4 AARP meeting to give an update on Gigi’s progress.

Gigi’s son Edward Hechter wrote this in a note last evening: "Mom is doing better…they now consider her serious but stable. Internal bleeding is under control, and her vital signs are stable. This morning, she was truly awake for the first time since the surgery. She was able to recognize my voice, and held my hand. You could see her attempt to smile in response to the words I was speaking The doctors, nurses, and technicians at Kern Medical Center are doing a great job, and we are truly blessed that she has received such great care.

"It’s exceptionally difficult to see her in such pain—she’s always been larger than life itself. This is so tragic—I just can’t put my emotions into words….She’s got a very long road ahead of her in terms of recovery, but with the support of her family and friends, I’m sure she will flourish. The doctors and nurses are very impressed with her strength and her will to live.

"She’s not really able to accept visitors (except for immediate family)—not sure how long she will be in ICU. We’ll update you as things continue to progress. Please tell folks to continue to send notes, emails, etc.—I’m 100% sure she’ll appreciate each one."

UPDATE (Saturday, Nov. 29 at 10:15 a.m.)—Gigi Day continued to improve this morning and was described by her family as "more awake and now responding to voices." Her son Edward said she smiled when she heard his voice. He said doctors are waiting for her lung strength to return before taking her off a ventilator. Day’s husband Bill expects to arrive at the hospital today from Arkansas.

UPDATE (Friday, Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.)—Gigi Day’s condition improved further by Friday with the rate of internal bleeding reduced significantly, although she is still in critical condition. Doctors have begun removing her from sedatives and a CAT-scan revealed no concussion or brain trauma that doctors could see. Nurses reported that she has become aware of people who enter her Intensive Care Unit room and that she "indicated discomfort from a collar that is around her neck," which nurses then adjusted for her comfort. Day was fighting for her life Wednesday and Thursday after the Wednesday accident in Frazier Park. Family members have indicated there will be need for assistance to Day’s husband Bill as he will need to remain focused on her daily recovery.

UPDATE (Thursday, Nov. 27 at 10 p.m.)—Gigi Day is still in the Intensive Care Unit of Kern Medical Center. Her vital signs have stabilized and the first 24-hour critical period has been passed with modest improvements which are hopeful. She is still sedated and is not yet conscious. Day’s children have all arrived and are taking shifts at the hospital. Bill Day is driving in from Arkansas via Missouri, equipped for a long stay near the hospital in Bakersfield. Friends are starting to discuss what they can do to help support the family’s vigil.

Gigi Day is a beloved figure in the Frazier Mountain Communities. She is the president of AARP, a Rotary Club member and well-known as a talented dancer who loves jazz festivals. She has been a consistent beacon of community service, including reviving traditional celebrations among the Jewish families of this region.

UPDATE (Thursday, Nov. 27 at 12 noon)—Gigi Day’s condition improved Wednesday early evening prompting doctors to change her listing from "critical" down to "serious." Within three hours, however, complications returned and she was again listed as "critical," according to a family friend at the hospital. Since late Wednesday evening she has made small improvements with a slight slowing in the rate of internal bleeding from her injuries. Doctors have said that the first 24 hours should provide much information about whether Day’s condition will worsen or improve.

FRAZIER PARK, Calif. (Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m.) — A head-on collision involving an armored transport truck and a passenger car has left Gloria ‘Gigi’ Day, 80 of Frazier Park in critical condition.

Day was traveling eastbound on Frazier Mountain Park Road at 12:40 p.m. when an armored car vehicle, traveling westbound, lost control, according to CHP reports and collided with Day’s Subaru Outback. The armored truck reportedly rolled over and landed on top of the Subaru. The airbag in Day’s vehicle was deployed, according to firefighters at the scene.

Day was taken via ground ambulance to Kern Medical Center where family and friends went to stand by for any available information. Husband Bill Day, was in communication with family and friends as he began his trip back from Arkansas via Missouri to reach the hospital. A helicopter enroute to the accident scene had to be canceled due to weather conditions.

Gigi Day is an active community participant, volunteering with numerous non-profit groups, including AARP, Rotary Club, Mountain Shakespeare Festival and others.

Two occupants of the armored car were taken to Kern Medical Center with minor injuries.

Check back at this page for updates as they become available.
(updated 11/30/08 at 4:08 p.m.)

This is part of the November 28, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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