ST. LOUIS – A man driving a tractor-trailer sent a woman into a ditch just days before Thanksgiving.
Now, she's sharing her story. It's the same crash on I-55 near Hamel, Ill., that killed two young sisters from Staunton, Ill., their friend, and a Missouri Southern State University student.
Melissa Grabher stopped by 5 On Your Side Wednesday before her friend picked her up for a three-hour journey to Springfield, Mo. That's where she was supposed to be heading more than two weeks ago. The November 21 crash interrupted that plan.
"Home for the holidays," Grabher said.Grabher was driving her mom's Yukon with her dog riding along. Her boyfriend was leading the way, in a separate vehicle, when they came across a construction zone.
"Nobody was supposed to be going," Grabher said. "I was stopped. I mean, we were at a standstill."
While she was stopped, she sent a quick text to her mom."I said, 'We're stuck in traffic at a standstill,'" Grabher said. "The next thing I know, lights out, and I'm over in the ditch away from everybody. When I was in my car, I was upside down. I was digging through grass and dirt to get out."
She said her boyfriend and a man driving a truck, who was not involved in the crash, helped her get out of her mom's car.Police said Mohamed Yussuf Jama was the driver of the tractor-trailer that crashed into several cars.
Four young women died from their injuries in the crash: Hailey Bertels, 20, Madisen Bertels,17, Tori Carroll, 20, and Vivian Vu, 19.
"I feel very selfish," Grabher said. "Like, I'm here. They're gone."Grabher's ribs are broken, her back is broken on one side and she has a shattered shoulder.
"I have a torn spleen, a torn aorta," she said.
Now, she uses a walker to get around.
"Right now, I feel like a turtle in a shell," she said.
On top of paying for unexpected medical bills, she's worried about her mom.
"With me just totaling my mom's vehicle, my mom doesn't have a vehicle," she said.
But her heart also aches for the families whose loved ones didn't survive."If he didn't do it on purpose, he needs to go find these people and tell them he's sorry because he has to live with it, too," she said.
There is a GoFundMe account to support Grabher’s recovery.