Former Becker County Commissioner Jack Murray's granddaughter in intensive care in Montana hospital after car accident
Moorhead native Flynn Murray, 23, the granddaughter of former Becker County Commissioner Jack Murray, is in intensive care in Bozeman, Mont. after a rollover car accident Thursday evening, which also involved her brother Casey, 21.
Flynn Murray's father, Pat, grew up in Detroit Lakes, and the family has a summer cabin in the area.
Flynn Murray remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman and is facing the possibility of quadriplegia -- paralysis from the shoulders down.
Casey Murray was released from the hospital late Thursday night.
Right now, doctors are waiting for swelling and shock in Flynn's spinal cord to go down to begin to determine how much paralysis will be permanent, Pat Murray said.
She's facing a long road, though -- it could take up to a year of therapy and rehabilitation for Flynn to realize the extent of her injuries.
Pat Murray said doctors are limited to what they can fix right now, since fractures in her first and fifth cervical vertebrae limit options in repairing her sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae, which were fractured and dislocated. The dislocation, Pat Murray said, is what has caused Flynn's paralysis.
Only a few hours after the accident, however, Flynn underwent surgery to realign her spinal cord.
Her parents, Pat and Sue Murray, were able to fly out to Bozeman immediately, arriving at the hospital just a few minutes before Flynn came out of surgery.
Flynn's initial paralysis, however, may now cause additional complications. She is having a hard time breathing and swallowing, Pat Murray said, and there's a chance for blood clots in her lungs or pneumonia.
Pat Murray said they hope to move her to Denver's Craig Hospital on Wednesday or Thursday, a facility well known for it's treatment of paralysis and spinal cord injuries.
Flynn and Casey Murray were driving back to Bozeman on Thursday evening after a day of downhill skiing at Big Sky Resort, where Flynn teaches ski lessons, Pat Murray said.
Details of the accident aren't clear; Pat Murray said he thought one of the tires got caught, and when Flynn attempted to correct the Honda Civic, the car rolled over toward the driver side and landed upside-down.
Pat Murray said the road they were on, a "challenging canyon road," is one he thought accidents probably occur often on.
"It's not always suitable for weather conditions," he said. "It's a road you have to have a lot of respect for."
Gallatin Road winds north to south on the edge Yellowstone National Park, so it's a beautiful drive, Pat Murray said.
But the road is dangerous.
The pair was wearing seat belts, Pat Murray wrote in Flynn's CaringBridge site journal. He said that it was a lucky break that likely saved both of his children's' lives.
Casey Murray was initially able to release himself from the vehicle and help his sister, who was unable to breathe.
Fortunately, an ambulance carrying a non-emergency patient wasn't far behind Flynn and Casey, and stopped to help carry Flynn to the hospital.
In addition, a friend of Flynn and Casey's was also driving behind them and stopped on the side of the road when she recognized the car; she called Pat and Sue Murray in Moorhead and told them the news.
Flynn is a fourth-year civil engineering student at Montana State-Bozeman with plans to graduate in spring 2010.
In Flynn's CaringBridge site journal, Pat Murray wrote about his daughter's positive attitude and forward thinking during a scary time.
"That's just who she is. She's inspirational," Pat Murray said. "She's just the kind of person that would light up your life."
Pat Murray referenced the "guest book" comments on Flynn's CaringBridge site, which has been signed over 200 times since Pat set up the site on Friday.
Flynn's grandfather Jack Murray said he's confident that Flynn will come out of the accident in good shape.
"She's definitely going to make the best out of the situation," he said. "She's done everything she set her mind to in the past ... I've got great faith that she's going to make some kind of a comeback."
Updates on Flynn's condition can be viewed through her family's journal at www.caringbridge.org/visit/flynnmurray.
The family has also established the Flynn Murray Benefit Fund through the State Bank of Fargo. Donations can be made at any of State Bank's branches.