Community rallies around West Orange student injured in crash
West Orange High volleyball player Lucy Noegel is ready to begin her journey of healing and getting back on the court.
| 11:56 a.m. July 8, 2020
West Orange Times & Observer
Those who know West Orange High School junior Lucy Noegel know her as a trooper.
Lucy is an honors student who is active in her church youth group and plays volleyball at both the club and high-school levels. She has a mentality geared toward hard work and perseverance.
The 16-year-old’s ability to persevere is shining through now more than ever.
On June 29, Lucy and her mom, Christina Noegel, were in a car crash that left her with serious injuries.
The Noegel family was on vacation in Georgia when the crash occurred. The two were in a turn lane when they were hit from behind, sending them into oncoming traffic where another car struck the passenger side of the vehicle — Lucy’s side.
“Apparently, we spun several times before landing in the ditch, where they then had to bring the Jaws of Life to get her out,” Christina Noegel said. “What I remember and what she remembers is getting in the helicopter and flying to the trauma hospital that we went to.”
Christina Noegel was briefly unconscious and suffered relatively minor injuries. Lucy, on the other hand, sustained multiple fractures and breaks in her pelvis, hip, backbone, femur, knee cap, ribs and face.
She was in the intensive care unit for a few days but has since been moved to a regular patient room. Now, she already is working hard toward mobility.
“It’s a hefty list, but she has a very positive attitude and is a real hard worker,” Christina Noegel said. “She definitely has perseverance. She knows it’s going to be a long road. She’s had quite a bit of pain with just getting up and moving, and learning how to shift herself from bed to wheelchair. She’s on the beginning end of the mobility, because with the majority of her injures being in her pelvis, hip and backbone, stability is an issue with her torso.”
Christina Noegel said doctors are anticipating Lucy being in a wheelchair for six to eight weeks before she can move forward with her journey to begin walking again. Already, Lucy has been discussing things she and her dad will build in her room to help her with upper-body strength.
There’s a community of family, friends and teammates rallying behind Lucy and her family, too. Vicky Veloz, Lucy’s 16U Elite coach at Five Stars Volleyball Club, said the team is close and the club community is supportive.
“Lucy is a very special player,” Veloz said. “She’s playful, funny and is a friend to every single person. This year was her year. … She was one of our best ones. You could count on her. Every single time she made a point, the whole team just screamed so hard because she did it. … The way they are as a family and Lucy being the player she is, that’s why everybody is trying to support her as best as they can.”
Veloz describes Lucy as the person anyone can rely on — both on and off the court. She added that Lucy’s fighting spirit and mentality — along with love and support from her friends and teammates — will be what spurs her along the road to recovery. Although Lucy might not be able to play volleyball for a while, Veloz is determined to ensure she still is active with the team.
“I want to make sure she feels like (we know), ‘OK, this happened, you’re going get better, you’re going to push yourself to get back to normal but you’re still part of the team,’” Veloz said. “Just her presence means a lot for the group. I told her, ‘You’re going to be next to me, you’re going to help to motivate the girls.’ I really want her to be part of the group when we come back to the court again. I know she’s working hard right now.”
The Noegels hope Lucy can be discharged next week so they can return home to Winter Garden and continue her recovery surrounded by their community.
“You have to be mentally strong in order to go through this,” Veloz said. “Like I told her mom, ‘I’m with you guys all the way through — it’s a promise.’ We’re looking forward to seeing her back.”