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Injured sisters on the road to recovery

(At left) Laura Spray recuperates this week at Island Health and Rehabilitation Center. Spray and her sister Vicky were badly injured Dec. 9, when a tow truck veered into their path on SR-305, struck their vehicle head-on and overturned. Firefighters had to cut off the roof of their Subaru Outback to free the sisters. - Ryan Schierling/Staff Photo
(At left) Laura Spray recuperates this week at Island Health and Rehabilitation Center. Spray and her sister Vicky were badly injured Dec. 9, when a tow truck veered into their path on SR-305, struck their vehicle head-on and overturned. Firefighters had to cut off the roof of their Subaru Outback to free the sisters.
— image credit: Ryan Schierling/Staff Photo

Their vehicle was crushed by a truck Dec. 9.

For sisters Laura and Vicky Spray, the season’s gifts are small but blessed.

A warm shower. A tentative, walker-assisted amble down the hallway and back. Sharing a room for the first time since high school.

“We have a lot of things to be grateful for,” Laura Spray said. “Just being alive is huge.”

The sisters were badly injured in a Dec. 9 accident on SR-305 near Manual Road, when their car collided head-on with a tow truck that crossed the center line.

Both were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center, where they spent most of a week before being discharged to Island Health and Rehabilitation Center. Their stay at that facility is week-to-week, as the women mend enough to return to their own homes – Vicky in Poulsbo, and Laura, a former island resident, in Suquamish.

“I’m the one who got out of this relatively in one piece,” said Vicky Spray, who is recovering from a fractured skull and pelvis.

Her sister is in a body brace for a fractured spine, to go with fractures to her left hand and foot.

“I kind of get around like a mummy,” Laura said, her knuckles rapping “tock tock” on the stiff brace around her torso.

The pair were northbound on the highway when a truck owned by Gateway Towing appeared in their path, struck them head-on and overturned onto their car.

Police say the truck went into the ditch on the right side of the road, then careened back across the highway into the oncoming lanes.

The truck driver, a 36-year-old Bremerton man, escaped injury, as did the driver of a third vehicle that struck the Sprays’ car from behind.

No citations were issued, but police said this week that the case has been sent to the prosecutor for possible charges against the truck driver for vehicular assault.

Bainbridge Police Traffic Officer Rob Corn said the driver told police he thinks he fell asleep at the wheel; several motorists who were behind the tow truck before the crash told police they were about to call 911 to report its erratic travel.

“Witnesses observed him having difficulty driving over a long period of time,” Corn said. “Apparently, he was in both lanes and on the shoulder all the way from Poulsbo.”

Damage to the Sprays’ Subaru Outback was so severe that rescue crews had to cut off the roof to free the occupants. Those at the crash scene expressed some surprise that the Sprays survived.

“The dynamics of the accident definitely worked out in their favor,” Bainbridge Police Lt. Chris Jensen said.

Rich Drippon, general manager for Gateway Towing, declined comment except to say that his company has been doing all it can to assist the victims and their insurance company. The driver’s employment has been terminated, he said.

The sisters have been advised by their attorney not to discuss the accident or the moments leading up to it. Laura, though, did thank witnesses who stopped and tended to them while emergency crews were on their way.

“There was one lady who said, ‘I’m not going to leave you until the medics arrive,’” Laura recalled. “She just stood there and kept her hand on my arm.”

The sisters say their goal is a full recovery, and have been working with physical therapists.

“People say, ‘how long?’ and we don’t know,” Laura said. “But in the scheme of things, that’s okay.”

Friends say that while insurance will cover some of the sisters’ costs, they face months of lost work time, and possible renovation of a home to make it better accessible.

A benevolent account has been set up at American Marine Bank, under the name Spray Accident Fund. Islander Jackie Kimpton is organizing help with meals; she can be reached at 842-9227.

“People’s generosity has been overwhelming,” Vicky Spray said.

For their mother, Mary Spray of Poulsbo, a visit to her daughters’ bedsides this week brought gratitude and relief.

“It’s a miracle,” she said. “It sure would have changed my whole life if something had happened to them. I don’t want to think about it.”

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