The Romph Family of Jefferson City never imagined they would spend the first few nights of 2009 at the University of Missouri Children's Hospital. Their youngest child, five-year-old Margaret, was badly injured in a Friday afternoon car accident in Cole County. Margaret's parents say their little girl is fighting for her life and facing life-long paralysis.
"They were running an errand and I was just working...and I started hearing all these ambulances and fire trucks and everything and I just kind of started noticing where they were going and I just got this really sick feeling," says Margaret's mother, Sherline Romph.
The accident took place where Heritage Highway intersects with Highway 54, just south of Jefferson City. The car Margaret, her sister Erin, and her Grandma Kay were riding in attempted to cross the highway when they were struck by an oncoming vehicle.
Erin and Grandma Kay suffered minor injuries. Margaret was in much worse shape and was airlifted to University Hospital.
"The MRI showed Sunday that she has two breaks in her neck; a high one and a low one," says Sherline. "One of them controls her breathing."
The doctors have told the Romphs that, if Margaret can survive her current breathing issues, she will be paralyzed from the neck down and on a ventilator for the rest of her life.
"It seems like we're going through hell," says Margaret's father, Eric Romph. "Right now our faith in God is what's getting us through it."
Also helping the family cope is a Web site set up by a family friend. It gives loved ones updates on Margaret's condition and provides a place for well wishers to express thoughts of sympathy to the entire Romph family.
"It's awesome to get on there and see people that we know giving us thoughts and prayers," says Sherline. "But Eric and I were talking the other day that it's really cool to get on there and see one that says, 'I don't know you, but I'm praying for you'..."
Margaret is a cheerleader at the Capital City Cheer gym in Jefferson City. Her mother Sherline became the director of the special needs cheer squad just a few months ago. Sherline says that job has a whole new meaning to her now.
The Romphs say Margaret will respond when they touch her face. She can blink to say yes and no.
Both of Margaret's parents have taken leave from their jobs with the Missouri Highway Patrol to be with their daughter. Co-workers and other friends have set up a fund to help the Romph family. Donations can be sent to the "Romph Family Fund" at Central Bank in Jefferson City. The address: P.O. Box 779, Jefferson City, MO 65102. You can also follow the link below to donate online.