November 1, 2012, had been a long day of work and school for the Williams family. Frances Williams was at the wheel, driving her husband and two teenage sons home. As she drove through an intersection, another driver ran a red light and hit her car, which flipped over. Though they were wearing seatbelts, everyone was injured and taken to three hospitals.
Frances arrived at Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, where she was stabilized and diagnosed with a broken neck. She was transferred to Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital. Throughout her time in Ben Taub’s Trauma Center, she asked about her husband and sons. It wasn’t until later that she learned her younger son, Frankie, 16, was at Ben Taub Hospital.
Before the night was over, physicians performed surgery, taking bones from Frances’ lower back to repair her neck. “I woke up the next day to see lots of family from Mississippi. I couldn’t move my neck, but I didn’t know why. I also didn’t know the back of my head had been shaved. That was a surprise!”
Frankie had suffered a minor skull fracture that briefly affected his hearing. More troubling, he was disoriented and panicked about his family. Once staff members took him to his mom’s bedside, he was able to relax and begin to recover from his injuries.
Frances was in the hospital for six days. “The care was great. The nurses and doctors gave me good 24-hour care. They did a great job — a wonderful, excellent job. Ben Taub is one of the good ones. I would recommend it to anyone.”
Though she has limited mobility in her neck, Frances says she never experienced pain. Mostly, she’s grateful to be alive — grateful her whole family is alive. Her husband has recovered from multiple broken bones and is taking excellent care of her. The boys are back in school and enjoying their regular activities.
Before the accident, Frances was a phlebotomist and drove all over Southeast Houston. She hasn’t returned to work.
“You can’t predict what’s going to happen,” she says. “I didn’t expect to be in an accident or to have surgery. I tell people always be aware of their surroundings. Drive for yourself and others.”