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August 30, 2004
Museum employee looking for her
Karen Chance just wants to say thank you to the man
who helped save her life—but she can’t find him.
It’s been just over a month since Chance, an employee in the Carlos Museum’s
exhibition department, was in a serious motorcycle accident that resulted in
the loss of her right leg.
Sitting in the living room of her Edgewood home, Chance recalled the afternoon
of July 22, when she was riding home from Emory on her Suzuki Savage 650 motorcycle
and was struck by a car making an illegal U-turn, just past the intersection
of Clifton Road and McClendon Avenue.
The car turned the bike around and pushed Chance, an experienced motorcyclist,
for a few yards until she ended up on the ground, her right leg nearly severed
and losing large amounts of blood.
Then a man appeared “out of nowhere” to help.
Chance said she doesn’t remember all the details but has pieced together
what she does remember with eyewitness accounts. The man—a Caucasian male
about 6 feet tall with dark hair—was dressed in running shorts and a T-shirt.
He came to Chance’s aid, and she and others remember him saying he was
a medical resident at Emory.
He gave directions to others as to who to call for help and what to do, while
applying pressure to Chance’s leg stop the bleeding.
“At some point, he took his shirt off and used it as a tourniquet. That
is undoubtedly what saved my life,” said Chance. It took 45 minutes for
an ambulance to arrive, and the man stayed with her the entire time.
“I could really feel his concern for me, and I could feel he was scared
for my survival,” she said. “Mostly what I
remember is that he was very kind and was doing all he could to keep me alive.”
Chance was rushed to Grady Hospital’s trauma unit, where she underwent
five hours of surgery and stayed for 11 days of recovery. Almost as soon as she
returned home, she was readmitted to Emory Hospital due to complications and
spent five more days there. Now home, she’s determined to find her Good
“At the very least, I’d like to buy the guy a new shirt. I would
like to be able to thank him and let him know that what he did really mattered,” she
Chance said there are hard days when she has trouble coping with her situation,
but her focused realism wins out.
“I am upbeat because I have to be. You can’t let yourself get sucked
into the ‘vortex,’ which is my way of thinking about it. If you do,
you’re not going to be able to do what you need to do to recover.
“You can think of all the different ways it could have turned out differently—I
could have gone a different way home that night or I could have been five seconds
earlier or five seconds later. It’s not going to change the fact that you’ve
lost your leg and you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to make
your life work. You have to get on with it,” she said.
Chance, who designs and builds exhibitions, plans to recuperate at home for three
to four months. She will start physical therapy soon and is ready to begin working
with a prosthetic limb. She also plans to get a
“C-Leg,” a high-tech prosthetic leg with sensors that can determine
a person’s gait, creating stability and greater efficiency.
For now, she gets around in a wheelchair and crutches. Her friends and long-time
partner Claudia Nesbit, whom she wed in Canada last year, spent two days building
a wheelchair ramp on the side of their house—a total surprise to Chance
when she arrived home from the hospital.
“I’ve got a lot of good friends and I have Claudia, and that makes
things easier,” Chance said, with a smile.
If anyone has any information about the man who helped Chance, please contact
her at 404-880-0366 or e-mail her at Chance60@aol.com.