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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

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Following plane crash, Meyer continues to recover

A two-person recreational plane is flying around Monee, IL on Sept. 7, 2014 with a pilot and Kristin Meyer, orchestra director for the Glenbrooks, in the passenger seat. As an activity at a family get together, Kristin is enjoying the flight in the small plane. Suddenly, there is shuddering. The plane becomes out of control. As it jolts back and forth, the plane accelerates at an alarming speed toward the ground. 

“I just remember thinking to myself, ‘Okay, I know this is going to be bad, but in my mind this is going to be pass fail,’” Orchestra Director Kristin Meyer said. “If I’m awake, if I’m alive, if I can move, I can get out of this.”

Kristin has no memory of the actual impact, but upon regaining consciousness, she realized that she was strapped into an upside down plane that was leaking gas. Hanging in her seat, she used the emergency release on her seatbelt and fell to the ground. She gained her bearings and focused her attention on the pilot.

“I looked at the pilot and he was not responding, not conscious and bleeding very, very badly,” Kristin said. “He was bleeding from his neck, and so I knew that he [couldn’t stay] hanging upside down. I’m a small person and he was tall. How was I going to get him out?”

Eventually Kristin used the emergency release to free the pilot and tend to his wounds. Her own injuries from the crash included pulmonary contusions, a traumatic brain injury, three broken ribs, a shoulder fracture, a knee fracture, a sprained ankle, a torn rotator cuff, and bone contusions in her leg. Since the accident she has also experienced sensitivity to light and sound, painful headaches and some short-term memory loss.

“I tried using the radio in the plane; it was not working, or I did not know how to use it,” Kristin said. “We were about five or six miles away from the air-field, so no one saw us go down, and no one knew where we were. It was pretty remote. I was in an area that I didn’t recognize either.… I yelled help, but there was nobody around.”

The pilot finally regained consciousness and woke up disoriented. The pilot explained that they had crashed into a power line and then lost control of the plane. After seeing the overturned plane, the pilot realized it was leaking gas in an area surround by power lines— an explosion hazard. To combat the leaking, the pilot and Kristin, fighting the pain from their injuries, managed to flip the plane over.

The pilot had a cell phone that he gave to Meyer, which she used to call her husband, Carl Meyer. When she called she tried not to worry the pilot with the tone of her voice.

“She sounded very calm and played the situation down,” Carl said. “She said the pilot was hurt. And I said, ‘Well at least you’re okay.’ and she kind of paused and said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ The minute she said that, then I knew things were bad, because that is not something she would do.”

Kristin tried to direct help to their location by explaining what she could see. The sun was setting, so she could tell the cardinal directions. However, the area was surrounded with six-foot tall weeds, making locating them even more difficult.

“By the amount of bleeding, I knew that we didn’t have a lot of time,” Kristin said. “[Also], it was getting harder and harder for me to breathe…. [But I kept thinking], ‘Okay this is pass/fail’ and I was going to pass.”

After about an hour, help finally arrived.

“The last thing I remember for a while is when we got out,” Kristin said. “We heard people coming and we walked carefully out to the road, avoiding the live power lines. I saw the ambulance and I saw my husband, and once I saw him, I knew help was here. I knew that I could finally [relax], and I just collapsed on the side of the road.”

Kristin was taken to a local hospital and later transferred to a level one trauma center, where doctors informed her that the pilot made it to the hospital in time, and that Kristin had saved his life.

“It was a traumatic thing to see someone in that situation and know that you’re the one that has to help,” Kristin said. “That’s pretty overwhelming; you don’t think as a music teacher that something like that is going to be part of your story.”

Since the accident, Kristin has been working hard every day since the crash in September to recover and return to teaching. In her absence, Aaron Kaplan, assistant orchestra director, assumed additional responsibilities with the assistance of substitute teacher Christopher Canzoneri. Kristin has recently been visiting orchestra classes at North and South as often as she can, and was even able to attend the spring Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra concert, where she received a heartfelt standing ovation after walking on stage.

Kristin attributes her success in recovery to the outstanding support she has received from her family, the Glenbrooks and the orchestra students. Kristin is hopeful that she will be able to return to teaching in the 2015-2016 school year.

“It takes seconds for your body to break, and incredibly longer for it to be put back together,” Kristin said. “My motivation is just so strong to come back and be with the kids…. I feel really lucky to be alive. I’m just so grateful. I’m grateful for the support, I’m grateful to be alive, and I’m just looking forward to coming back.”







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