In Memory Of Jessica Percell
by Crissy Fullerton
(Junction City Oregon)
It was a quiet Friday night in June 2006. I put my kids to bed and followed them soon afterwards. I knew the next morning was going to be busy since Jessica, my 14 year old niece was planning on going to the mall with the kids and I to shop.
I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing sometime after 3am. It was my oldest brother who told me to come to the hospital. My first instinct was that my father had a heart attack but he said it was Jessica his daughter and she was in a bad car crash. He told me to hurry and I did. The whole ride to the hospital I kept trying to envision what his terms of "bad" really was.
As I entered the hospital my stomach dropped at the sight of my brother.Big and tough he usually is but tonight his eyes were moist. I could tell by the tears that her injuries were severe. We waited along with the mother of another girl involved in the accident. Minutes seemed like hours and then a doctor came in and said Jessica had injuries that needed immediate attention and she was being transferred to the ICU.
Family and friends gathered and prayed for a miracle. Teachers from her high school, fellow high school students and an assortment of friends came to visit and offer their own prayers.
Doctors and nurses informed us that there was massive brain damage and the outcome was not good.We tried to remain optimistic.Jessica's brain would continue to swell each day. A surgery was performed to give the brain more room to expand without causing more damage.
On June 17, 2006 too much damage occurred and Jessica was declared brain dead. A little after 1pm a small gathering of family and friends entered her room for the last time. Almost 15 year prior our family had gathered in the same hospital and cried with joy on Jessica's birth. On June 17 2006 our family had gathered again with tears in that same old hospital but there was no sight of joy to be found.
Jessica's spirit had left her battered body but along with my husband and a nurse we began to remove all the pictures in her hospital room. Snapshots of Jess smiling and laughing, posing and playing as a child. Her current school portrait was the hardest to remove. Her long beautiful brown hair that had been removed in sections for the surgery and even more was cut away for her mother, father and I to keep. Jessica's handprints were placed upon a piece of paper that talked of the pain of losing someone. I could only be reminded of the years not so long ago when her tiny fingers and toes were printed into her baby book.
Jessica was laid to rest wearing a gorgeous brown dress her grandmother and her had picked out that past December. Jessica wore it proudly in December and I would like to think she wore it proudly that day as well.
Jessica was laid to rest with many momentos but one of the things that I gave to her was a lucky find we came across that past summer on a school field trip to Florence Oregon. It was a sand dollar. On the day that we found it the weather was stormy and lots of kids huddled for warmth. Jessica and I found this perfect circle of a sand dollar and she squealed as she showed it off to friends.
Watching a casket being lowered into the ground is always heartbreaking but there is no words to explain the amount of pain one feels knowing a child is inside the casket. The knowledge that her death was preventable makes the pain last even longer.
The boy who took Jessica Percell away from her family and friends was Will Lighty 18 also of Junction City Oregon. He would later be tried and convicted of her death. Will Lighty was intoxicated unlike Jessica at the time of the crash. Excessive speed and alcohol on his behalf ended Jessica's life and could have ended the other two girls lives in the truck as well.
Through a side window she was flown in the early June hours of 2006. Through a hospital window she flew home one June afternoon.
Jessica Rose Percell
8-17-91 to 6-17-06
"What the heart has once owned it shall never lose"