An event took place Monday afternoon at the Livingston County Courthouse in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
An event took place Monday afternoon at the Livingston County Courthouse in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Those in attendance were welcomed by Livingston County Sherriff Steve Cox and a proclamation was issued by Mayor Chuck Haney (read by Councilman-at-large David Moore) declaring National Crime Victims’ Rights Week as April 10-16. A Crime Victims’ Rights Week video was shown to the audience called “Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope,” and Katrina Apley, spoke to those in attendance about her experience with being the victim of a drunk driver.
“I was traveling home from a friend’s house and I was just about less than half a mile from my house. I could actually see it; it was on the Heart of America Bridge downtown in Kansas City. I had just graduated from nursing school... I had the job of my dreams at the North Kansas City Hospital as an oncology nurse. So, I was enjoying my life at that. Me and my boyfriend decided that we would try for a child now that I was finished with school and I was six months pregnant,” Apley said.
“As I was driving home that night I was excited because my birthday was the next day. I was going to turn 31,” she said. She said that as she was driving home she felt nervous as she was thinking about how she felt old and how she’s getting ready to have a baby. As she was thinking about those things, a flash of white light came in front of her.
“I remember my car starting to spin,” she said.
She said she was screaming and all she could think about was her pregnancy.
“I didn’t care about myself. I knew that I was pregnant. As I waited and I was trying to figure out what had happened, I thought, did I do this to somebody else? ...I heard a young man say it’s not her fault it’s this car over here, so I was able to relax a little bit and then it hit me again that I’m pregnant.”
This would have been her second child. Her first son was stillborn in 2009, so she was extremely excited to be pregnant again, she said.
She said a lady stopped during her accident and waited with her as she was trapped in her car and asked if there was anyone she could call.
“I said call my mom and tell her I love her. I thought I was dying,” Apley said. “She stood by my side and she was definitely a big impact in my life.”
“I got to the hospital. I had several injuries. My foot was crushed... my knee was crushed, my femur was broken, my back was broken in three places, all my ribs were broken, my diaphragm was torn, I had nerve damage in my arm and I couldn’t move it for two weeks, and many other things and a lot of mental trouble that I dealt with,” she said.
The doctors did an ultrasound upon arriving to the hospital and they told her, her daughter’s heartbeat was only 90 beats per minute, and it should be 110 or more.
“As a nurse, I knew my child was dying,” she said.
She passed out after that, and then awoke before leg surgery. Doctors did another ultrasound, and they told her that her child was gone.
“This beautful baby... died inside of me and there was nothing that I could do. Because of a choice that I didn’t make. A choice that a young woman made for me. Taking my child from me,” she said.
“I spent four months in the hospital, 50 days in a rehab unit learning how to walk again. But I told myself, ‘I’m not going to let this lady take me down. I’m going to be better than this.’ It made an inspiration for me to be a stronger person,” she said. “We’re coming up on two years now since the accident. And as you can see, I can walk again. It’s not always the most comfortable thing for me. I deal with chronic pain, I have PTSD, I suffer nightmares every single night,” she said.
“I had to give up my apartment that I loved and move back in with my parents. I gave up the dignity I had as a human. I couldn’t wipe myself, I couldn’t shower for myself... I watched my parents have to treat me like a baby because I couldn’t live my own life the way I wanted to. I was 31 years old and I was back with my parents having them bathe me. And at that point I thought, ‘I can’t live like this. I’m going to be better. I’m going to be stronger. And I am. I am now able to go touch other victims. I communicate with them. I help out. I speak when I can,” she said.
Her offender was sentenced to 18 years in prison for second degree murder of her daughter.
“It’s very important that we continue to fight for our victims. We don’t know their story, and they (the stories) are all not simple and easy to look at but we all have a story. We all have a process that were going through in our life,” she said. “Do I forgive my offender? Not yet. She’s up here in Chillicothe and I didn’t realize that... Do I care for her? Yes. Do I want her to be a better person? Yes. Do I think that I’ll forgive her one day? Yes. I remember telling my advocate, ‘I don’t know why but I have this feeling that one day me and her will come together and we’ll make an impact.’ Whether it be speaking at high schools or what. But we will make an impact as a person and I know it. She was sympathetic. I watched her cry the whole trial long,” she said.
“It’s important to look at these victims and know that they are survivors,” Apley concluded.
After Apley’s remarks, the Chillicothe High School choir performed and refreshments were served.