Another hurdle to overcome

On May 5, Stratford High's Brittany Jefferson won her second consecutive Class 4A 100-meter hurdles title at the state track and field championships.

Tyrone Walker

Brittany Jefferson was on top of the world.

A senior at Stratford High School, she was looking forward to graduation in a few weeks. Twelve days ago she won her second consecutive state championship in track and field, and later that same day attended her school's prom.

Her future included an athletic scholarship to Limehouse College.

But everything changed in an instant Sunday night when the 18-year-old was severely injured in a car wreck.

Jefferson was in critical condition Wednesday at Medical University Hospital. Her spleen was removed Sunday night. She also suffered a collapsed lung, a fractured pelvis and other injuries. She was scheduled to undergo more surgery today.

Jefferson's mother, Melanie, said doctors already have used 40 units of blood to treat her daughter.

"You should see the car," said Melanie Jefferson, who has spent most of her time this week at the hospital where her daughter is in the intensive care unit. "It's unbelievable she's still here."

Brittany Jefferson was driving home from a friend's house in a 1998 Ford two-door sedan when the accident occurred at the intersection of U.S.

Highway 17A and Myers Road near the Sangaree area. Jefferson was turning to go south on the highway but crossed the path of a 2001 GMC sport utility vehicle driven by Michael McGann, 29, of Goose Creek, according to Cpl. Paul Brouthers of the S.C. Highway Patrol. McGann was headed north on 17A and struck Jefferson's car on the driver's side.

Jefferson is charged with failing to yield the right of way.

Melanie Jefferson began to worry when Brittany didn't return home and couldn't be reached by phone.

"Her curfew is 9:30, and Brittany is never more than 15 minutes late." Melanie Jefferson said. "I just kept waiting, calling her on her cell phone, and it would just go to her voice mail.

"At 10 'til 11, I got on my knees to pray and, I kid you not, the phone rang. It was MUSC."

Melanie Jefferson arrived at the emergency room unaware that her daughter had been airlifted to the hospital or that her injuries were life-threatening.

"The glass from the (car) window had shattered and splintered in her face," she said. "It was devastating. The first time we went into the emergency room, I couldn't even look at her."

Stratford track coach Shane Sutherland said Jefferson is polite, outgoing and has a lot of friends.

"She's great for the team," Sutherland said. "She communicates with adults well and she stands out. She's a tough girl.

"Our team is extremely giving," she said. "We have kids already planning to have blood drives at their churches. We've had someone from the team at the hospital every day after school. They ask me if she's going to make it, and I don't know. I wish I had the answer."

Melanie Jefferson has faith that Brittany will recover, but the road to recovery will be long.

"She's sedated, unconscious, but I talk to her. I tell her she is going to be fine and everyone is praying for her. She will have a wonderful testimony and will run faster and better than ever."

Noah Haglund contributed to this report. Reach Philip M. Bowman at pbowman@postandcourier.com or at 937-5592.