Prayers, cards, videos and an outpouring of financial support from acquaintances and strangers are helping boost the spirits of 11-year-old Angelica Mae Haakenson and her mother, Mathany C. Satterwhite, 29, of Anchor Point. The mother and daughter are in Providence Hospital in Anchorage recovering from injuries sustained in a Christmas day three-vehicle wreck on the Sterling Highway.
“Yesterday I was sitting with my parents, Angelica’s grandparents, reading comments from all the people who have donated and all the amazing things people have said to her. If you want to cry, read those comments,” said Emily Haakenson, a family spokesperson for her niece, Angelica.
As of Monday morning, a gofundme online fundraising site posted a total of more than $39,000 raised in two days. Some of the accompanying comments are from relatives and some are from friends. Some are from those simply touched by the circumstances.
“We don’t know you all personally, however we do know some relatives and have mutual friends. One thing is for sure, when something happens our community pulls together,” wrote Lisa Malowitz Cotler.
Indeed, communities on the Kenai Peninsula are pulling together to help the family. In addition to the gofundme site, an Angelica Haakenson Fund account has been set up at Wells Fargo.
“People can go into any Wells Fargo anywhere in the nation and say they want to make a donation to the Angelica Haakenson Fund or provide the account number and it will be used for Angelica,” said Haakenson.
Two peninsula artists, Chelsea Horn and Karrie Hill, have launched online auctions of their work in an effort to help the family. Kayla Tennison of Anchor Point is organizing an Anchor Point event to be held in the Chapman School gym at 1 p.m., Jan. 18. Tennison is being helped by her Soldotna friend, Darlene Glich.
“We are going to do a full spaghetti feed, silent and live auction,” said Tennison. “It’s what I can do to relieve some of the things from that family and let them be involved with what they need to be doing.”
The wreck occurred at approximately 5:50 p.m. Christmas day at milepost 145.5 of the Sterling Highway, according to the Alaska State Troopers. Traveling northbound, a 1994 Toyota pickup operated by Satterwhite had broken down on the side of the highway. Nathan Sargeant, 51, of Anchor Point, pulled in front of the pickup to jump-start it. The pickup had no operable lights and only one headlight on the van was working. Driving a Toyota SUV, Larry E. Pyatt, 29, of Anchor Point said he didn’t see the pickup, but only the van’s headlight. He began to skid on the ice- and slush-covered road as he slowed and struck the pickup.
Standing in front of the pickup, Satterwhite was connecting jumper cables. She was thrown into the ditch by the impact and suffered serious injuries. Angelica, who had been standing between the pickup and van, was pinned between the two vehicles and suffered serious, life-threatening injuries. The drivers of the SUV and pickup suffered minor injuries.
In addition to the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol’s Kenai Peninsula Team, other responders included Ninilchik Emergency Services, Kachemak Emergency Services and Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Services, according to Cassie Parkinson of APFES. The four injured individuals were transported to South Peninsula Hospital. Angelica and Satterwhite were later medevaced to Providence Hospital.
Angelica’s injuries include multiple spinal fractures. Damage to her legs has resulted in the amputation of both legs above the knee.
“She was asking a lot of questions, so we had to tell her,” said Haakenson of letting Angelica know about the loss of her legs. “Her first concern wasn’t about herself, though. It was about knowing her mom was OK and that it wasn’t her fault.”
Satterwhite’s injuries are not as extensive as Angelica’s, according to Haakenson, adding that the mother and daughter have been able to see each other several times since being admitted to Providence.
Angelica has undergone more than one surgery since arriving at Providence. Efforts on Sunday to evaluate the extent of her injuries had to be done without pain medication, “so by the time it was over, she was not in good shape,” her grandmother Denise wrote in an online posting.
“(Sunday) was a really hard day,” said Haakenson of Angelica’s status. “I don’t think any day will be as bad as that first 24 hours, but (Sunday) was pretty rough for her.”
What lies ahead is still uncertain.
“Right now the focus is on her legs and back and making recovery there,” said Haakenson. “She also has other major injuries that she has to recover from before they can focus on getting her ready for prostheses. At some point in the next few weeks, most likely, she will be heading out of state. None of this is set in stone. It’s just what we think is going to happen.”
While she has already undergone and faces more challenges ahead, Angelica’s “spirit will definitely work in her favor,” said Haakenson. “She’s determined and she’s fearless, so it will definitely come into play. She’s got a great attitude and that will definitely help her.”
Although hospital visitors are limited, Angelica’s friends have found ways to make contact.
“They’ve been making video messages, texting them up here and emailing them up here, so she’s able to watch them when she wakes up,” said Haakenson.
Flowers aren’t allowed in ICU, but Haakenson said Angelica loves to read, her favorite color is green and she loves stuffed animals. She also has an iPod, but Haakenson wasn’t sure if her niece had been able to listen to music yet.
When asked what the family most needed from others, Haakenson said “anything they can do, whether it’s praying, sending warm wishes or helping the family with whatever they might need to be done. … Or grow up to be an ambulance driver. That’ll help someone else.”
For the help already received, Haakenson extended the family’s appreciation.
“There were so many people. The drivers, the firefighters, two different pilots, both hospitals, South Peninsula Hospital and Providence, doctors, nurses, surgeons. There are so many people who helped save her life,” said Haakenson. We’re just so grateful for them. Words can’t express.”
The swell of support from the peninsula and beyond clearly illustrates the power of actions beyond words.
“I have kids that are going to help make food for the spaghetti feed,” said Tennison, whose 13-year-old daughter is friends with Angelica. “These 11-, 12-, 13-year-olds are heartbroken and don’t know what to do. This is a good way to get them involved and really make Angelica feel like nothing is going to change. We’ll still be here. These kids love her and are here for her.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cards can be sent to Angelica Haakenson and Mathany Satterwhite at:
Children’s Hospital at Providence
3200 Providence Dr
Anchorage, AK 99508
Donations can be made to:
• The Angelica Haakenson Fund, account 2413583861;
• Facebook art auction by Chelsea Horn;
• Facebook art auction by Karrie Hill;
• Spaghetti feed and auction being coordinated by Kayla Tennison, 235-6898 or 907-756-3434,