NORFOLK, Va. — It's the call no parent wants to receive. "It was just a whole other level of nightmare in this story," Debbie Leger said, the mother of DUI crash survivor Sabrina Mundorff.
On May 19, 2017, Mundorff and her best friend, Kaitlyn Duffy, were 18-year-old seniors at Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake. They were headed home after a day at the beach when the unthinkable happened.
"Sabrina's friend had called. Well, she never [calls] me," Leger said. "So, I listened to the message. She told me that Kaitlyn and Sabrina had been hit by a large truck."
Duffy died at the scene. Mundorff was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries, including to her head. The two were set to graduate in less than a month.
"To have that ripped away from us was just one of the many things we had ripped away from us, including prom, which she'd planned on — and, you know, every other thing that goes along with graduation and starting college and everything," said Leger.
Family and friends of Duffy dedicated a bench at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in her memory. Leger said the gardens were a very special place for her.
The fatal accident dominated news headlines for months. More than a year-and-a-half later, Mundorff's road to recovery is far from over. "She had to learn how to walk, she had to learn how to eat, she had to learn literally everything," Leger said.
Leger recalls moments during her daughter's rehabilitation when she felt lost as well. So, she started a support group for young people with traumatic brain injuries and their caregivers called 'TBI Survivors and Thrivers.'
"Teenagers and young people are at an especially high rate of traumatic brain injuries," said Leger, "and it happens from such a thing as a simple fall to a lot of car accidents."
Leger said the road to recovery after traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is challenging enough and no one should have to go it alone. "With this group, you can't understand unless you've lived this," Leger said. "So, this is a group where people can come and we all get it like nobody else can."
Mundorff is now a 19-year-old freshman at Virginia Tech, and she hopes to become a doctor. Leger said she plans to be there every the step of the way for her daughter. "We've done everything we can to get her back," Leger said. "And for the most part, it's worked. You know, she's doing incredibly well. She's a miracle."
Leger is looking for speakers for 'TBI Survivors and Thrivers' monthly meetings. She hopes the group can discuss a range of relevant topics, from therapy and treatment to legal and financial planning. If you'd like to join or present to the group, learn more at its Facebook page.