Friday, September 16, 2011 - Chris Evert Children's Hospital Welcomes Back Former Teenage Patient Impaled by I-95 Road Debris

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - Thirteen years ago, South Floridians were mesmerized by the harrowing tale of Stephanie Murray.  Impaled by a 30-inch pole while driving with her mother on Interstate 95, 13-year-old Murray was pinned to her seat by the airborne road debris.  After being driven to Broward General Medical Center by an assisting firefighter, Murray and the seat to which she was pinned were removed from her family’s minivan, all while she remained conscious.  

As the story unfolded, the horrific and incredible details of the accident continued to captivate: the rod missed Murray’s heart by a mere 3 centimeters, no internal organs were damaged by the pole, a full recovery was expected.  South Florida was witnessing a miracle.

Today, Murray is 100 percent healed with no lingering effects from her horrific ordeal.  On a recent visit to Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, she shared how she is just like any other 26-year-old newlywed.  An avid tennis player and hiker, Murray has completed her bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from the University of Florida and is now trying to balance being a project manager associate for Walt Disney’s Imagineering with being a wife of less than a year. 

“It’s always good to see your patients, to see them doing well,” says Dr. Joseph LaSpada, one of the physicians who treated Murray.  “Stephanie went through a pretty traumatic experience and it’s great to see how she’s overcome it and become such an accomplished young woman living a happy and productive life.  It’s wonderful that she takes time to visit children who are experiencing their own health obstacles and giving them hope.”

The reunion was also touching for Murray, who says amidst hugs and well wishes, “They [Chris Evert Children’s Hospital] have great doctors.  They’re all fabulous here.”

Murray says that many things at Chris Evert Children’s Hospital are familiar, and she immediately remembered where she had recovered, Room 9.  After visiting patients across the hall, Murray made her way to that fateful room, which currently was occupied by a young girl.  After sharing her own story, the child finally cracked a smile.  Murray says that being in Room 9 brought a sense of peace versus the chaos she experienced those many years ago during her own recovery.

In another wing, Murray was able to accomplish what nurses and doctors had struggled with: motivating a 17-year-old girl to take her first steps after surgery.  She points out that while doctors have the initial impact on their patients, visitors such as herself can also make a difference, which is why she is committed to these visits and raising awareness for the many patients who are recovering from traumas and illness.

What makes Murray’s recovery most remarkable is how she has used the incident to shape her life.  Often making visits to children’s hospitals in her new hometown of Orlando, Murray has made it a personal mission to touch lives.  While visiting Chris Evert’s Children’s Hospital, Murray not only gifted children with stuffed animals and toys, she took the time to speak with each child or teen about his or her ailment, recovery and hopes for the future.

“Being able to impact the children now is the most important thing.  You take something so horrific and use it as a catalyst for change,” Murray says. 

Broward Health, providing service for more than 50 years, is a nationally recognized system offering world class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information, visit