Junior high starts year without teacher hit by drunk driver

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Hundreds of students returned to school in Clay County Tuesday, but one important member of the yellow jacket family at Oakleaf Junior High School did not. Eve Bradford, a sixth grade teacher at the school, is still recovering after she and her family were hit by a drunk driver in March.

Bradford's silver Kia Soul was crushed on the driver's side after FHP says a drunk driver slammed into her car March 21. Bradford says it took rescue over an hour to cut her out of the car and life-flight her to the hospital.

Related: 3 adults, 3 children injured in Clay County crash

Bradford said she suffered a broken pelvis, a broken sacrum, a head injury and broken ribs.

Her 4-year-old son had serious neck injuries and swelling of the brain. Her 17-year old was in the car along with Bradford's pregnant twin sister and her nephew. Everyone survived with injuries, but recovery has been a long journey.

"I just looked at it [like] I had a life before and I had a brand new life now and I didn't obsess on the life I had before because the loss would be too much to deal with," said Bradford.

Five months after the crash, Bradford still can't walk. Her children motivate her and the hope of one day returning to the classroom is still alive.

"I thought I was going to be the little old grey haired teacher walking down the hall way with a cane. I didn't see myself giving up teaching even when I was of retirement age," said Bradford who has been a teacher for six years.

The first day of school was rough for the yellow jackets who know and love Ms. Bradford.

"It's very difficult and I think the students still notice in fact today [Tuesday] I had a student that we had previously that came by and asked me is Ms. Bradford back this year," said fellow sixth grade teacher Nancy Regas.

It was Mr. Anthony Williams' first day as Principal of the school and he says the entire staff is hoping she will make a full recovery.

"We look forward for her to return to Oakleaf Junior High one day, we're optimistic about it and hope she comes real soon," said Williams.

Sixth grade World History teacher Jennifer McKeel says she's using Ms. Bradford's experience to teach her students a valuable life lesson.

"The smallest decisions you make can greatly affect other people's lives," said McKeel.

Bradford is staying strong for her kids, despite her injuries. She hopes her story will save lives.

"I know when he got into the car to go start drinking, he didn't think I am going to crush lives, but he did," Bradford said.

The driver, Kevin Warriner, is facing DUI charges and serious bodily injury charges.

The family is trying to move on and have started a You Caring Fund page to help with medical bills.


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