Today is a special birthday for Joan Gochenour.
Joan turns 83 years old today, a year after a train nearly took her life in an accident at a railroad crossing at U.S. 136 and Boone County Road in Jamestown.
She has been in hospitals and rehabilitation homes for the past year, and was finally able to return home last month. And that was a huge celebration for her and her family, who has been with her every step of this journey.
“It was like a reunion, just a big family reunion,” said James Gochenour, her husband of 61 years. “She is a lot better than I ever, ever thought she would be.”
Joan herself says she’s doing pretty good. When asked how it feels to be home, she answered with an elongated “greeeeat.”
“I’m glad I’m home,” she said. “I hope I don’t have to go back.”
The past year has had its ups and downs. The couple’s daughter, Sue Noland, describes it as a year of devastating lows and the most exciting highs she’s ever experienced.
The lows came at times when James and Sue both thought they would lose Joan. As she was air-lifted to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis after the Aug. 2, 2011, collision with a CSX freight train carrying steel beams, James said Joan’s body temperature dropped to 93 degrees. She had a lacerated liver, cracked ribs, a broken hip, damage to her spine and a “pretty good gash” on her forehead, he said. He wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to return home.
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