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BYU-Idaho student recounts being impaled on railing

Health & Fitness

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REXBURG – It’s been nearly two weeks since Brigham Young University-Idaho student Jewelissa Lowe was impaled in her apartment parking lot.

The day of the accident, Saturday, Nov. 21, Lowe and friends had gone to Yellowstone National Park to find a Christmas tree.

“We got a Christmas tree permit, and (my friend) got her parents’ truck so she could load it,” Lowe said from her hospital bed.

Jewelissa Lowe getting Christmas tree

Jewelissa Lowe, right, and her friends load a Christmas tree in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., on Nov. 21, 2015. Courtesy of Chloe M. Davis

When they returned to Lowe’s complex, Heritage Apartments, they parked the pickup near a concrete landing and a stairwell to unload the tree.

Because the truck was sitting in an unusual spot, Lowe’s friend figured she needed to move it, and what happened next was something no one could have prepared for.

“She had to go move the truck, but we were still picking branches out of the back of the truck bed,” Lowe said.

As her friend started the truck it lurched backward, forcing Lowe between the stair railing and the truck bed.

“I just remember backing up and thinking (about) the odds of me finding the handrail compared to how much stair width there is,” Lowe said, “I was hoping I didn’t find one of the handrails, that I would just go down the steps and the truck would stop before then.”

But the truck didn’t stop in time. The pressure of the truck caused the handrail to puncture a gaping hole into Lowe’s back. The rail moved with her body as she tried to turn away.

When Lowe broke free, she tumbled down the stairs before coming to a stop.

“I went to turn over a bit and then I heard gurgling. That’s what really freaked me out … I could hear the blood starting to leak out of my back,” Lowe said.

Lowe’s roommate Chloe Davis was close by.

“I was really scared. I kept asking, ‘Can you feel your legs?’ and she kept saying she could,” Davis said. “She’s a super independent person. She loves doing stuff all the time. I didn’t want her to not have that freedom that she has with walking.”

Throughout the moments of anxiety and pain surprisingly Lowe kept herself and others calm. Even though it’s only been a few weeks, she already feels comfortable joking about it.


The handrail to the stairs at Heritage Apartments a few days after the accident. The railing has since been removed. Courtesy of Markeeda Klymman.

“(There was) a guy that put a coat on me, and I remember thinking, ‘What are you doing? Your coat’s going to get bloody, and that’s not going to come out. That’s a terrible idea,’” Lowe said.

When help arrived, a police officer cut through her jeans to access the wound.

Jewelissa Lowe
Jewelissa Lowe-hospital

Top: Jewelissa Lowe before the accident Nov. 21, 2015. Courtesy of Chloe M. Davis. Bottom: Lowe at EIRMC in Idaho Falls on Dec. 2, 2015.

The wound was near her buttocks. She mused about her modesty as a top priority while she was being hauled off in a stretcher.

“One of the (paramedics) kept saying, ‘Don’t worry. We’re going to protect your modesty the best we can,’ but there were all these people in their apartments (looking), and I can tell I’m not covered all the way,” Lowe said. “I thought it was interesting, but I thought it was kind of funny.”

She was rushed by ground ambulance to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

Although there was immense blood loss, the rail missed her spine by only a few inches. Lowe suffered muscle damage and a broken hip.

As for her friend who owns the truck, Lowe said she holds no ill feelings toward her and doesn’t want her to mourn over the past. The Rexburg Police Department classified the crash as an accident. The driver was not charged.

The railing has since been removed.

She said her roommates are still dealing with the aftermath.

“It’s lonely because it’s not the same,” Davis said. “It’s been really hard, and I think it’s been really hard for my roommates as well.”

Lowe’s parents said they are proud of her and they’re happy it wasn’t worse.

Now Lowe, a mechanical engineering major from Washington state, continues to make a full recovery.

“For her to keep her head like that is pretty unusual, so I was quite impressed,” her father, J.T. Lowe, said. “When she’s going down the hall she walks really fast. I can’t believe what she’s doing. It just amazes me.”