Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vilano Beach Accident Victim Searching for Lost Dog

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vilano Beach Accident Victim Searching for Lost Dog

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK PETTUS

She's been lost and found

And she's still around

There's a reason for everything

- Singer, MARY J. BLIGE

If there really is a reason for everything maybe one day Sherrie Hartness will understand why a Jacksonville man, who police say was drunk and whose license had been revoked for habitual traffic violations, decided to get behind the wheel April 14 and drive along the same stretch of A1A in Vilano Beach where she was walking her dog. And why she and her teacup Chihuahua, Mary J., were walking at the very spot where his vehicle veered off the pavement and she was almost killed. And why Mary J. wasn't.

Maybe not.

Right now Hartness isn't looking for reasons. She's looking for Mary J. The little dog disappeared after the accident and Hartness hasn't seen her since. She says a witness told police that as she lay bleeding by the roadside, unconscious and waiting for the ambulance to arrive, another driver attempted to scoop up Mary J., but the little dog scampered away. What happened next, no one seems to know.

What Hartness does know is that she faces years of physical therapy before she can hope regain even part of the life she lost that day on the beach. Her job, her apartment, part of one of her lungs and the use of her left arm all vanished after the accident. She spent 47 days in Shands hospital, four weeks of that in the trauma intensive care unit.

When Shands released her with orders to return in two weeks for a follow-up, her family drove her to her parents' house in northwest Georgia. Two days later they rushed her to the emergency room, where doctors discovered a massive infection in her lungs and performed emergency surgery where they "power-washed" her chest cavity. She spent another 22 days in the hospital. Now she is recuperating at her parents' home - isolated - and far from her own home and the life she was trying to build. …

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