How fast can a get-together for a weekend of fun turn into an unthinkable tragedy? As fast as it takes to roll a vehicle, the Glotfelty family of Ramona discovered Thanksgiving weekend.
Prayers have been answered and miracles granted during a roller coaster of events and emotions that started on Nov. 29.
“We were in Ocotillo Wells, over by Blow Sands, in a wash,” said Nicole Glotfelty. “Kaley (Nicole’s daughter) was riding in a separate dune buggy with a family friend and his children.”
Kaley’s dad Mike Glotfelty has been driving dune buggies in that part of the desert for many years and is very familiar with the terrain, said Nicole.
“They were driving in the wash at night. Kaley was riding with friends, following my husband,” she said. “When that driver decided to pass my husband, he hit a boulder and a wheel broke.”
In an attempt to gain control of the crippled vehicle, the driver apparently overcompensated and the buggy did a full roll.
Of the five occupants in the vehicle, Kaley, 9, suffered the only serious injuries, her mother said. Everyone was wearing five-point harnesses and was instructed to “hold onto the harnesses” to contain flailing limbs.
“I tried to hold onto the harness,” said Kaley, “ but it was too fast.”
As the buggy rolled, the 9-year-old’s right hand was partially severed above the wrist.
“They called me on the cell phone and by the time I drove over to where the accident happened, there were flares and ambulances everywhere,” said Nicole. “We couldn’t get a life flight out, so the ambulance had to take Kaley from Ocotillo to Brawley Hospital.”
Once doctors assessed Kaley’s injuries, she was taken to Brawley Airport and placed on a medic plane, which flew Kaley and her family to San Diego International Airport Lindbergh Field. Kaley was placed in another ambulance and taken to UCSD Medical Center.
In all, it took five hours to get Kaley from the desert to UCSD.
“We could have gotten there by ambulance in only two,” commented Nicole.
Kaley has received excellent care from staff at UCSD, her mother said.
“She never cried at all, not even when the accident happened,” said Nicole, who credits the lack of pain during the initial injury to the combination of shock and the nerves being severed and crushed. “As a mother, I am grateful she didn’t feel any pain of course. No one wishes to have their child injured, but I am grateful there wasn’t any pain.”
Nicole laughed when she recounted the conversation with Kaley at the hospital immediately after the accident:
“Mommy can I go to school tomorrow?”
“No sweetie, tomorrow is Sunday.”
“What about the next day?”
That early conversation, her mother said, proved to be a foreshadowing of the Kaley’s “incredible attitude” throughout the ordeal.
“Kaley has been in amazing spirits from the beginning,” said Nicole. “She has been fairly happy through the whole incident, always smiling and hasn’t complained about anything.”