Thirteen Minutes Changed So Much

The crash put her in a coma for a month. When she woke up, her entire life was different.

Krystal Foster got off work at the normal time: 10:30 PM. She was happy she didn’t have to stay late like she sometimes did because tonight, her husband Chris had brought their daughter Raven and they would all get to drive home together. She was exhausted. Krystal was pregnant with her second child and in this season, work was definitely taking a toll. But her face lit up as she walked toward the car and she saw the two most important people in her life.

Krystal, Raven on the left, her daughter Ari on the right with Krystal’s mother

Thirteen is sometimes considered an unlucky number. For Krystal, it will forever be her least favorite number, not because of superstition, but because 13 minutes after she got into the car, her entire life was flipped upside down.

A 19-year-old under the influence of drugs and alcohol was driving the wrong way on the highway. The last thing Krystal remembers was the impact. Then everything went black.

Her then five-year-old daughter, Raven was conscious the entire time. She was sitting directly behind Krystal and saw things she will never forget. She saw her father bleeding from the chest. She saw the windshield fall on her mother and tear into her face. She screamed to both of her parents trying to wake them up. But no one heard her.

Although Krystal cannot remember any of these moments, they will forever live engraved in Raven’s mind. She told Krystal later, “You were taken away in a green ambulance, and daddy and I were taken away in a red one.” But for a while, Raven remembered nothing else but the crash. Raven suffered a brain hemorrhage and forgot almost all the people, places, and memories before the crash. She also forgot things like how to eat on her own or tie her shoes. But Krystal was not able to be there for her in the months after the crash.

Krystal was completely unconscious after the impact of the crash. In fact, she was completely unconscious for the next month. She woke up from her coma with a month missing and a life forever changed.

Krystal’s mother tried to tell her through the coma that Krystal’s husband, Chris had died on the way to the hospital. She tried to tell her there was a funeral for him. She tried to tell her that her unborn baby had not survived the crash. She tried to tell her that Raven was safe. Krystal heard none of it.

Krystal woke up a month after the crash in a rehab facility. She didn’t know how long she had been out. She didn’t know what her world was like. All she knew was that she was in pain. When they told her that her husband was killed because of the crash, it took her a while to comprehend. She called his phone multiple times from rehab. All she got was his voicemail. All she would ever get was his voicemail.

It was in this season that Krystal’s MADD advocate came to the rescue. She gave Krystal a MADD care package that included reading material about survivor’s guilt and helped her cope with dealing with lifelong injuries. Krystal says that her MADD advocate was the only person who understood what she was going through.

“People kept telling me I was lucky to have survived,” Krystal said. “And all I could think was “Don’t call me lucky. I’m not lucky.’ That crash took my husband, it took my unborn baby, it gave my daughter brain damage, and gave me injuries for my life. But the MADD advocate and a lot of the people I met through MADD are the only people who truly seemed to understand my pain.”

To this day, Krystal still battles with the ramifications of her injuries. She had to have 15 facial reconstruction surgeries, open heart surgery, and pelvic reconstruction surgery. She can hardly walk now and will need hip replacement surgery soon. But she remains strong. If you were to talk to her today, she would tell you her resolve has never been stronger to fight drunk driving with her entire being.

“I remember when they were wheeling me into a follow-up appointment after my open heart surgery, two surgeons were talking about me,” Krystal recalls. “One said, ‘This can be wrong way crash victim. She didn’t survive.’ My response to them was ‘Yes I did.’ They didn’t expect me to live, let alone walk. But here I am. And I’m walking with purpose.”

Krystal survived. But today she is doing so much more than surviving. Krystal is defeating the injuries of her crash. And she is now a voice of hope for victims of drunk driving everywhere, just as her MADD advocate was that voice of hope for her.