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Former lacrosse goalie fighting, beating odds

Rachel Hall, after being critically injured in a hit-and-run accident, will walk at graduation this week.

On April 29, 2015, former lacrosse goalie Rachel Hall was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident at the intersection of Park Avenue and Diamond Street.

The list of injuries was extensive—a fractured skull with bleeding to the brain, a dissected/torn right carotid artery and pneumonia, along with other complications—and Rachel’s mother, Kathy, was worried after hearing from doctors at Temple University Hospital.

“It was just the worst time in my life, not knowing,” Kathy said Saturday. “They gave her three days to live, and her brother came up from college, flew up from Virginia, and her dad and I were in the hospital room for three days straight not knowing. Because if she took a turn for the worse, we all wanted to be there.”

Now, a little more than a year after the accident, Rachel—who was honored at Temple’s lacrosse game Saturday—will walk at the College of Liberal Arts’ graduation this Thursday at the Liacouras Center.

During the past year, Rachel’s rehabilitation process has been extensive, Kathy said. After the three-day span following the accident, Rachel remained at TUH for about another three weeks. She then started at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, where her brain went through a ‘storming’ process. Rachel couldn’t hold conversations, and was in an agitated state, despite trying to battle her injuries, Kathy said.

Kathy added another issue is not knowing how Rachel would recover from her brain injuries.

“Because the brain heals itself, no doctors, therapists could say, ‘This is a definite timeline,’” Kathy said. “It’s just the brain heals itself, and everybody heals differently. … It’s not like, you have a broken leg, it’s going to heal in six weeks, you do therapy and you’re fine. It’s just with the brain, everybody is totally different.”

As Rachel continued to recover, friends, former teammates, family and community members from Mullica Hill, NJ and Temple continued to visit Magee in support, Kathy said. Residents in Mullica Hill helped the Halls with everyday tasks like cooking dinner and mowing the lawn so that Kathy and Rachel’s father, Michael, could visit her at the hospital.

Support also arrived from across the country, she added. Lacrosse teams nationwide sent autographed posters and handmade cards. In total, Rachel received more than 100 cards, which were taped to the wall in her hospital room, Kathy said.

The first four months of hospital and therapy bills cost $1.4 million, something that has been “overwhelming,” Kathy added.

“But she got great care, that’s the main thing, that money can’t buy,” she said. “I just want her well, that’s the main focus of it.”

Before the accident, Rachel had been accepted to attend the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Academy. The sociology and criminal justice double alumna hopes to be re-accepted and eventually pursue a career helping victims of human trafficking.

Rachel said she became interested in the topic as a student, and was self-taught when it came to learning it. She added that victims need more support after telling their stories.

Her mom thinks her curiosity in the area has been instrumental in her recovery.

“I thought maybe this accident might change her mind about being in law enforcement,” Kathy said. “It hasn’t. And that’s why I think it’s kept her going in her recovery, that she still sees that goal ahead of her.”

Currently, Rachel is doing physical, speech and cognitive therapy five days a week at Independence Rehab in Cherry Hill, NJ.

“My speed of talking and my articulation is a big thing, along with just everyday talking,” Rachel said about her therapy. “And then [cognitive] is just my memory and processing [information], that’s the big thing I’m doing.”

Last Friday was the one-year anniversary of the accident. As Kathy prepared to take Rachel to rehab, she realized how remarkable her daughter’s recovery has been.

“I was sitting on the couch, and I was putting my shoes on to take her to therapy, and I just started crying because I realized it’s been one year that she’s been with me,” she said. “She didn’t die, and even though the past year has been the worst year of my life, it could’ve been far worse if she had died. As I sat on the couch and tears started coming out, I said, ‘She’s here. She’s not dead.’ And the whole past year was worth it.”

Those who wish to donate to the Hall family can do so through her YouCaring page, titled “Rachel Hall – Long Recovery Requires Extensive Care & Rehab.” Cards and letters can be mailed to: Rachel Hall, PO Box 307, Mullica Hill, NJ 08062.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@temple.edu or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

CORRECTION: A version of this article that ran in print May 3 incorrectly stated that Rachel Hall is currently doing rehab at Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia. The Temple News regrets the error. 

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