Officer raising money for Austin student re-learning how to walk

Doctors said Rae Ross will be confined to a wheel chair until she can re-learn how to walk. (KXAN/Andrew Choat)
Doctors said Rae Ross will be confined to a wheel chair until she can re-learn how to walk. (KXAN/Andrew Choat)

AUSTIN (KXAN) —  It’s been a month since a young woman’s life was changed in an instant when she was hit by a car in northwest Austin.

The morning of May 3 is hard for Rae Ross to remember.

“The first thing I remember is coming out of the x-ray rooms,” Ross said.

Ross, 20, was on her way to work just before 11 a.m. that morning, when she was struck by a car just outside her apartment complex along RM 2222. Her pelvis was broken in several places, she had a fractured skull and her brain started to bleed. Doctors said she will be confined to a wheel chair until she can re-learn how to walk.

An Austin Police Department motorcycle officer, Chantal Locke, was one of the first to arrive on scene.

“Being that this happened right in my neighborhood, the area I patrol, I rushed over here,” she said.

After a few weeks, Locke checked in on Ross and found her situation was much more intense than she anticipated.

“I know sometimes we as humans drop the ball and don’t do follow-up checks. So, I wanted to make sure that she had a support system,” Locke said.

Valeta Jones is that support system. She’s not legally Ross’ mother, but she took her under her wing when Ross needed a family figure, but lacked other family support at the time.

“It just showed me that life can change in a blink of an eye,” Jones said. “The process has been difficult. Trying to get Medicaid, we were told because she doesn’t have a child, she doesn’t qualify for Medicaid.”

Ross only works part time and doesn’t have insurance. Because Jones is not her legal guardian, Ross could not be added to her insurance.

Between numerous hospital bills, medical visits and around-the-clock care, Officer Locke recognized Ross and the people helping her needed another kind of help.

She set up a GoFundMe page called “Compassion Counts.”

“It’s been a lot of my neighbors in Steiner Ranch, just this entire Four Points community, people have just been amazing, willing to help any way they can,” Locke said.

Jones is extremely prideful but realizes that she simply cannot do this alone. She’s currently trying to find a first floor apartment to move into with Ross after doctors said they will need to move to be able to prove that Ross had access to her home and all things in it — without stairs or steps — before she is released from inpatient rehabilitation.

Still, Jones is appreciative of the help from strangers.

“It has been amazing just to see people that we don’t know come together to make sure that help is out there. Helping with how the wheelchair was donated and different things like that. Seeing people come together, we are very grateful,” Jones said.

Ross was studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin before the accident. Though she knows it will be months before she learns to even walk again, her goals have shifted. Now, she plans on learning how to dance.

“It hasn’t been emotional, it’s been more spiritual. Like, my dreams have changed completely.”

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