Friends hold fundraiser for Indianapolis teen injured in go-kart accident
A Indianapolis teenager, hurt in a horrific go-kart accident, is in the middle of a long road to recovery. Now her co-workers hope the community steps up to help during a benefit set for next weekend.
It was Shelbi Crouch's identity: an infectious smile and long, beautiful hair.
"That was who she was. That's how people knew her as. In high school, she was voted best hair," said Sherri Crouch-Wilson, Shelbi's mom.
That's why it's a cruel irony that an accident took it all away.
"She's really struggling with that and the identity of not having that hair and probably never being able to have her own hair in some of those areas," she said. "Emotionally, she's still dealing with a lot."
Doctors say the 19-year-old IU student and Perry-Meridian graduate was lucky to have survived the accident at Whiteland Raceway Park in July.
It was her first-ever ride in a go-kart.
"She had a helmet on and it's my understanding she had some sort of neck guard on. I understand one of the guys that was with the group made mention, 'Does she, do we need to do anything about her hair?' and she was told no, that was fine," Crouch-Wilson explained.
But after just one lap around the track, something went wrong. Shelbi's mom says the kart hit a bump and Shelbi's hair got caught in the rear axle.
"It pretty much de-gloved her scalp and hair. She lost 80 percent of her scalp and her hair," Crouch-Wilson said. "She had a skull fracture, traumatic brain injury, a temporal bone fracture and had some paralysis on the left side of her face. She's now deaf in her left ear."
Shelbi now wears a head dressing and wound vac to help her heal. She's had three surgeries so far, including painful skin grafts. The surgeries and rehab aren't over yet.
But her mom says Shelbi's long locks are likely part of her past.
"She's probably never going to have hair follicles where the graft is," Crouch-Wilson said. "Whether we can surgically implant follicles or not, I don't know. The surgeon right now is just concerned with getting good coverage over her head and getting skin covered with healthy tissue."
Ever since the accident, Shelbi's co-workers at the Baskin-Robbins in Greenwood have been there for her, visiting her in the hospital and donating all their tips to medical expenses.
So far, they've raised more than $2,000.
They're hosting a benefit to make even more on Saturday, September 22 from noon until 6:00 at the Baskin-Robbins store off of US 31.
"She's like family to us," said co-worker Crystal Braswell. "We couldn't believe what happened to her. Something so innocent turned in a matter of seconds and changed her life, so we just wanted to support her and let her know, no matter what, we're always standing here behind you."
Shelbi's mom is, too. But she still wonders if the accident could have been prevented.
"I don't want another mother to ever have to go through this and so do I hold them at fault? That's a tough question. But I don't want this to happen to anyone else. That's for sure," she said.
Eyewitness News reached out to Whiteland Raceway's owner. His attorney tells us they have no comment on the accident itself right now. He said the staff's thoughts and prayers are with Shelbi and her family for a full recovery.