The impact from the tragic Somervell County traffic accident that took the life of a former Glen Rose kindergarten teacher Rhonda Cagle continues for one of four teenagers from Godley injured in the May 1 collision.
Chelsea Bell, who turned 17 since the crash, was in the ICU at JPS but is now recovering in a medical rehab facility. She suffered a traumatic brain injury along with multiple fractures in the two-car head-on crash.
Chelsea along with her brothers Braydon Bell, 15, and Brandon Bell, 18, plus 17-year-old schoolmate Hunter White were injured in the crash on Highway 67 as they were heading to Brazos River Charter School just east of Glen Rose near the Johnson County line.
All four of the students live in Godley, and were transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Staci Bell and Greg Bell are the parents of the Bell siblings.
A fundraiser is set for this Saturday in Cleburne for Chelsea’s medical expenses. Chelsea’s mother was in between jobs at the time of the crash and did not have medical insurance coverage.
The event, dubbed “Chelsea Strong Event Fundraiser,” will be from noon to 3 p.m. June 24 at 1646 W. Henderson St., Suite G, (Liberty Tax Building) in Cleburne. It will include a quarter auction, and all proceeds will go to Chelsea’s health care expenses according to her grandmother, Carolyn Clabo.
Chelsea, a straight-A student who was in the front passenger seat, suffered bleeding and swelling of her brain. She has short-term memory loss, and is still unable to walk. She also is recovering from right and left fractured femurs, a crushed left foot, fractured spine, fractured collarbone, fractured right arm, two broken toes and two broken fingers.
Braydon and Brandon, who were in the back seat, had relatively minor injuries. Braydon, 15, had a fractured sternum and internal bleeding. He was released from the hospital on May 4.
Brandon was discharged from JPS the day after the accident after being treated for a fractured left wrist.
White, a friend of the Bells, gave them a ride that day after Chelsea realized she had misplaced her car keys.
White had two fractured legs, a broken nose and had to have femur surgery. He was also to go home on May 5.
Chelsea and Hunter were trapped in the car as a result of the crash, and were saved from the burning vehicle by two motorists who stopped to help.
Clabo told the Glen Rose Reporter, “Jason Swindle, a truck driver … stopped, put himself in harm’s way and extinguished the flames …
“David Sumners, an off-duty registered nurse … stabilized everyone, began working on Chelsea as she remained trapped in the car. He applied pressure, and started an IV, before the paramedics arrived on the scene. The doctors in ICU said if it wasn’t for him, Chelsea would have died.”
Clabo said that Swindle and Summers will be honored Saturday at the Chelsea Strong fundraiser.
Word of the sudden death of Cagle, who was 63, impacted hundreds of Glen Rose students she taught during her 31 years as a GRISD teacher. Cagle, a previous owner of the Pie Peddler shop in downtown Glen Rose, retired from teaching in 2010.
According to the DPS accident report, the vehicle containing the four students was turning left to get to the charter school when it was struck by Cagle’s northeast-bound Kia. Hunter didn’t see Cagle’s car approaching because another vehicle ahead of him was blocking his view, according to the report.
Judy White, grandmother of Hunter White, said, “We feel horrible about Mrs. Cagle. He just didn’t see her. Hunter and I couldn’t be more sorry.”
White said that her own son, Bridgeport Police Sgt. Randy White, was killed in the line of duty in 2009 when a a stolen car pursued by other officers struck him at a roadblock. The driver survived that crash, but is serving a life prison sentence.
“So I can relate to how the Cagle family feels,” Judy White said.
She, like Cagle, was a longtime kindergarten teacher. She taught in Godley for 22 years, but now is retired.
“Our hearts go out to Mrs. Cagle and her family,” Clabo said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”