Crystal Meerdo said her strong faith and the overwhelming support of family and friends have kept her and her husband, Bob Meerdo, going over the past two weeks.
Life for the Meerdo family changed in an instant Halloween morning when the car driven by their 18-year-old daughter, Bricelyn Meerdo, crossed the center line on Park Avenue less than a mile from Trinity High School and crashed head-on into an oncoming sport utility vehicle. Both Bricelyn and her 15-year-old brother, Keaton Meerdo, were cut from the wreckage by North Franklin Township firefighters and flown to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. The driver of the other vehicle, Anthony LoGreco, 31, of Washington, was not injured. He told North Franklin police he tried to get out of the way to avoid the crash.
Bricelyn broke numerous bones and had lacerations to her entire body. Keaton is in an unconscious state with some broken bones as well as lacerations to his internal organs. He also sustained severe damage to his cervical spine and base of his brain. Keaton, who is in the pediatric intensive care unit, is scheduled for surgery Thursday to fuse the cervical spine.
“They have turned off his ventilator for about an hour at a time and he has been able to maintain his breathing,” his mother said. “He has opened up his eyes.”
She said he was also able to understand a doctor’s instructions and follow a stuffed toy with his eyes.
Bricelyn was recently transferred to a skilled nursing facility in McMurray. Her mother said her daughter still cannot bear weight.
“She is frustrated she can’t just get up and start moving,” Meerdo said. “But she has to wait for her healing.”
Meerdo and her husband, with the help of family, make sure that someone is with the children. Fortunately, her husband, who works for McDonald’s Corp., was allowed to take the 8-week sabbatical that he has earned as a 20-year employee now instead of this summer.
“That has been an enormous blessing,” she said. “I can’t be in two places at one time, and we try to have someone there for each of them.”
Either she or her husband are with Keaton around the clock in the event a medical emergency arises and permission is needed for a procedure. Meerdo said she has been sleeping at Children’s Hospital. On Monday, for example, she left about 5 a.m. to visit Bricelyn until early afternoon, when her grandmother came to be with her. Meerdo said the staff at Children’s has been very accommodating to their needs.
“God’s touch has kept me going. We have to be there for the kids,” she added. “We a very faith-driven family.”
Meerdo said her son is a lance corporal in the Washington County Young Marines and in the JROTC at Trinity, where he is a sophomore. She said both groups have been amazing, with his commanding officers in both organizations visiting Keaton at the hospital. Keaton’s dream is to become a Marine Corps drill instructor.
The staff at Trinity has been wonderful, Meerdo said. They have offered to set up cyber classes for Bricelyn and also send a teacher to work with her. Bricelyn is a senior who hopes to go to Waynesburg University and major in elementary education. When she is up to it, her mom said she will finish the college application process.
At the suggestion of family and friends who wanted to donate money toward the long-term care of Bricelyn and Keaton. Meerdo’s brother-in-law found the website www.gofundme.com, where an account has been set up for the teens.
“All we asked for were prayers, but so many wanted to help out,” said the teens’ mom. “But I just want to thank everyone. The love and support have been overwhelming.
“We are taking it all minute by minute and day by day,” she added. “Please keep us in your prayers.”