Laura Besgrove saved a life because she missed a turn on her way home from dinner with friends.
On June 1, two pedestrians were hit as they crossed the street at the intersection of Eighth and Ash streets, according to previous Missourian reporting. The accident left Patricia Beasley with serious injuries and resulted in the death of a second pedestrian, Katie Paul.
Besgrove, an MU Health Care neurosurgery nurse practitioner, happened to drive past the scene of the accident that night after missing her turn and immediately pulled over.
She then performed CPR on Beasley at the scene until emergency services could arrive. Besgrove said she called the on-call MU Health Care neurosurgery resident to warn him that two car crash victims were on their way. She then received some upsetting news.
“They told me the girl I had performed CPR on had passed,” Besgrove said. “I was heartbroken.”
But Besgrove said on her rounds the following Monday morning that she saw a familiar face: Patricia Beasley. At first she thought she was mistaken, but when Beasley’s mother mentioned that some woman had jumped in and performed CPR on her daughter, Besgrove realized that there had been a misunderstanding. Beasley was alive.
“Her mom got all big-eyed. I got all big-eyed, and I just started crying,” Besgrove said.
Beasley sustained two skull fractures, two brain bleeds and four pelvic fractures, among other injuries. Beasley said she has no memory of the accident or the doctors and nurses who worked to save her life that night. On Wednesday, she got the chance to be reunited with some of the staff and put faces to the names her mother had told her so many times before.
Beasley said she was excited, but also nervous to come back to the hospital. When she and her mother walked into the room where the staff had gathered, Beasley hesitated slightly before breaking out in a smile and embracing some of the nurses.
“I’m happy I’m not walking into a wall of terror, but instead a wall of love,” she said.
Because of an approximately five-week lapse in her memory, it was like Beasley was meeting these people for the first time. But they remembered her.
“It’s really hard because you don’t know what their outcome is,” Besgrove said about what it’s like after a patient leaves the hospital.
At their reunion, Besgrove gave Beasley a black purse. It was simple and sleek, black with a strap. It was a purse you would find in any twenty-something’s closet. But to Beasley and Besgrove, it was much more. It was a replacement for the one that Beasley had lost in the accident.
What followed that night were the first steps on a long road to recovery. It was during this time that Beasley got to know the hospital staff and they got to know her. Larissa Prenger, an MU Health Care nurse, took the time to wash and style Beasley’s hair when Beasley was unable to do so herself. Beasley’s mother would walk in to find her daughter’s hair braided, despite the fact that, following the accident, the staff thought they would have to shave her head.
“People here do their job, yes. But then what’s better is that they go above and beyond,” Beasley said. “Little things like that make a difference.”
Coughenour is an MU Health Care critical care surgeon who treated Beasley after her accident. He says traumatic situations like Beasley’s can be hard on both the patient and the doctor, so seeing a successful patient recovery like Beasley’s can be both motivational and reassuring.
“Knowing we did everything we could in the best time frame we could, that makes us feel good,” Coughenour said. “To have a patient come back and recognize part of your staff for a great outcome, that’s icing on the cake.”
The accident that injured Beasley and killed Paul took place two years after the Vision Zero Action Plan was adopted by the Columbia City Council. The goal of the plan is to “reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities in traffic crashes to zero by 2030,” according to previous Missourian reporting.
Paul was one of seven pedestrian deaths in 2019, Lydia Green, records custodian for the Columbia Police Department, said. For comparison, there was only one pedestrian death in Columbia in 2018 and only three in 2017. The cause for such a sharp increase is currently unknown.
Beasley and her mother said they are both grateful that she was sent to University Hospital following her accident, and that they will never forget the medical staff that got Beasley to where she is today.
“Some doctors call me a miracle patient,” said Beasley. “I’ll never forget meeting the people who made that happen.”