Nataly Kuznetsov is a nurse today because she was a trauma patient at Stanford Hospital & Clinics in November of 2005. The accident happened the day before Thanksgiving.
Kuznetsov, then 23, was speeding south along Highway 1 on the back of a friend's motorcycle. It was a warm and sunny day. Seagulls wheeled above the rugged coastline.
About 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, Kuznetsov's friend, the man driving the motorcycle, decided to pass a car ahead of them. He accelerated to 80 miles per hour and moved into the opposite lane of traffic. At that moment, the car, a red sedan, slowed down and began to turn left into a farm. The motorcycle smashed into the driver’s side, sending Kuznetsov flying about 100 feet. She landed along the side of the northbound lane.
Her right femur had shattered into about 10 pieces. Some pieces had shorn through her skin. She was bleeding profusely from her leg. "The bone was basically completely blown," she said. "My right leg was 4 inches shorter than my left one, just from the impact. You should see my X-rays. They're phenomenal."
She also had a head injury, a broken clavicle, lots of bruises and multiple abrasions. She was airlifted to Stanford Hospital aboard a Stanford Life Flight helicopter. Her friend, who suffered less serious injuries, was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in an ambulance.
Nataly Kuznetsov was severely injured in a motorcycle accident in 2005 and treated at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. Cheri Ward, an orthopaedic nurse at Stanford Hospital, remembers when Kuznetsov was transferred from the trauma unit to the orthopaedic unit. "She was mad as heck because of everything that had happened," Ward said. "She kept talking about how she had to study" — Kuznetsov was a student at an Oakland community college at the time — "and I mostly just listened. Then I told her, 'You've got a new job this semester. You've got to fight for your leg and concentrate on getting the care you need.' This seemed to make an impression. She calmed down and looked serious."
By John Sanford