A Story of Resilience: Help Us Rebuild Lives after Tragedy

ChewBeng Woodcock, Accounts Manager, VSS

Life can change in an instant, and for this Snohomish family, the events of February 10, 2023, were a turning point they never expected. We are reaching out to you today with a deeply personal story of strength, recovery, and the power of community.

On that fateful day at 5:45 pm, Jasmine was having her daily phone chat with her mother, ChewBeng, who was getting ready to leave work in Everett, and make her routine 25-minute drive home to Snohomish. A half hour later, as Jasmine sat working on her Graduate school studies in her Hawai’i apartment, she received a text that shook her world – a message reporting that her mother’s Apple watch had detected a vehicle crash.

With skepticism in the perfection of technology, Jasmine immediately texted her mom, asking if she was okay. No response. She then tried to call her mother and gets her voicemail, repeating this cycle 3 times. At that point, fear began to overflow, and using the iPhone GPS technology, she tracks her mother’s location, moving quickly in the direction of the nearest hospital. As panic set in, the reality unfolded for Jasmine: There has been a serious accident and her mom is on her way to the nearest hospital.

A Different Perspective

It had been a regular day at the office for ChewBeng – working in Accounting at one of her two nonprofit jobs. As she hung up the phone with her daughter at 5:45pm, she smiled to herself, beaming with fulfillment as she thought about her only daughter – her pride and joy – living on her own miles across the Pacific Ocean, working full time and pursuing a graduate degree, in her early 20’s. ChewBeng made a quick stop to pick up some dinner for herself and her husband from one of their favorite local restaurants, and was back on the road headed home – a drive she did regularly five days a week for years.

As she neared her destination, following the gentle curve of the rural road, a surreal moment unfolded when headlights approached head-on, and before she could even comprehend what was about to happen, the sound of the crash echoed and a surreal silence settled. The next few moments were a blur, at times feeling like they lasted for hours. The impact was devastating, leaving her trapped inside her mangled vehicle as her life hung in the balance. In the aftermath, amidst shattered glass and disorientation, Chewbeng found herself grappling with the immediate impact of the crash.

“I see the glass spider web and couldn’t breathe. I look down and see blood on my hand. I close my eyes and keep screaming. It felt like screaming was the only thing I could do to focus on my breathing. Then I heard a voice say someone is coming.” ~ ChewBeng

In the midst of chaos, someone emerged from the shadows, providing a lifeline by swiftly cutting the airbag, allowing ChewBeng to breathe. The first responders arrived, bringing both relief and a stark reality check. The severity of the situation unfolded as they explained the necessity to cut her rings off her hand, due to swelling.

Across The Pacific Ocean

The next few hours were filled with fear and uncertainty for Jasmine, as she made countless phone calls to emergency services, trying to verify the car crash. She called local friends that live nearby in Snohomish to see if she could get more information. One of them informed her that traffic is blocked from both directions near the crash site.

My only thought in that moment is that it must be serious. I felt so helpless being across the Pacific Ocean. The person who has always been there for me, I cannot help in the moment she needs me most. Is she going to die?” ~ Jasmine

Jasmine was able to get in touch with her father who was at work, informing him about what was going on and asking him to get off work as quickly as possible and head to the hospital. As the night went on, her dad locates her mom who had been transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle due to it being the only level one trauma center in the state. She learns that ChewBeng is alive, but the crash has left her with severe injuries, including brain bleeding, a broken pelvis, broken hand, two cracked ribs, and a fractured neck.

The Days to Follow

Bed-bound for 14 days, Chewbeng faced an uphill battle against physical limitations and the loss of personal autonomy. An ever-independent woman, she had to rely on others for the most intimate tasks, a heartbreaking loss of dignity. Depression quickly cast its shadow, a companion ChewBeng had never known before.

“I have never felt or understood depression, but after this I do.” ~Chewbeng

The ensuing months were a relentless struggle, yet despite the challenges, Jasmine embarked on a journey of support and care. Flying out 2 days later, she went straight to Harborview after landing, with 30 minutes left to spare on visiting hours. Jasmine recalls vividly the feeling of laying eyes on her mom for the first time, and their first exchange of words:

“Mom, I thought you died.” She scoffed, “you can’t get rid of me that easily.” Her attitude set the tone for the long road to follow.

They would later learn that her car was hit by an impaired driver who had made the unforgivable choice to get behind the wheel while under the influence. He was apparently heading home from a tavern and his F350 truck was littered with empty beer bottles. He was driving over 60 mph in a 35mph zone, when he crossed over the median before she could ever see it coming. The impact was head-on, pushing her little SUV backwards off the road into some tress, leaving it unrecognizable. According to the medics, ChewBeng was unconscious for 3 minutes before she was able to open her eyes and yell for help. The impaired driver escaped the crash with a few minor scrapes. According to the police report, his Preliminary Breath Test read at a 0.227, the legal limit being 0.08.

ChewBeng faced an uphill battle in regaining her independence. After an immediate surgery on her pelvis, followed by weeks of rehabilitation and a short stay in a Skilled Nursing Facility, Jasmine and her father stood by, ensuring that every step forward was met with encouragement and assistance.

“Almost every day for a month I visited her; trying to keep her company, figuring out how to proceed forward with life, and being a cheerleader for the progress she makes. The first month was the hardest, watching her stripped completely of her dignity and autonomy. She could not use the restroom alone or begin a meal without assistance; she could not take a bath or a shower, and she could not even brush her own hair. Her hair was trapped under her neck brace and it took hours to de-matte it. I spent my days with her assisting with her basic needs so less strangers had to touch her, and so she could retain some sense of dignity. In the 2 weeks at the Skilled Nursing Facility, she was determined to come home. I coordinated with attorneys, and various services to get the necessary support and make the house accessible for her.” ~ Jasmine

Exactly one month later, ChewBeng transitioned back home. Even as she returned home, the battle was far from over. A wheelchair became a constant companion for three more months, a symbol of resilience and the journey towards recovery.

“She came home March 10th and our family dog did not leave her side. Even though she was at home, the battle was far from over. She was still in a wheelchair with a cast on her hand, a neck brace, and covered in scars and bruises.” ~ Jasmine

ChewBeng’s recuperation at home with her dog Annie always by her side.

The months that followed were an unyielding challenge, marked by a multitude of medical procedures, extensive hours of physical therapy, and emotional wounds that may linger indefinitely.

“I was heartsick that I couldn’t do anything on my own, especially that I had to depend on strangers to complete intimate tasks. I had the most miserable time of my life for 3 months, hopping around and unable to use my leg. Even when I came home, I still was confined to my wheelchair for another 3 months. My daughter and husband helped with household and self-care tasks. But when my daughter had to return to Hawai’i, the need for additional assistance led to the hiring of CNAs to fill the gap.” ~ChewBeng

Amidst this struggle, the onslaught of bills added another layer of stress – from ambulance rides to extensive medical expenses, victimization paperwork, insurance claims, legal fees, and automobile-related costs. Despite the daunting circumstances, the necessity to meet these financial obligations further complicated the healing journey.

“Victim Support Services helped me complete a Crime Victim Compensation application so I would not have to stress as much about medical bills, but I had to get a new car to get to and from my medical appointments and therapy. We also had to arrange for Jasmine to travel back and forth from Hawai’I to help us out with everything in between her own job and schooling.” ~ ChewBeng

4 Months Later

In July, ChewBeng received the news that the person responsible for the crash had passed away due to unrelated heart complications. This revelation stirred a mix of emotions, adding another layer of complexity to an already profound experience for the family. The absence of accountability deepened the impact of that fateful February day, leaving a void where justice might have provided closure. The realization that there would never be a trial or potential sentencing further complicated the healing process.

“I am devastated that he does not have to suffer the consequences for what he did to me.”

~ ChewBeng

A Message from Our Executive Director

Throughout our years of dedicated service, Victim Support Services (VSS) has observed a growing demand for our support within the community. We have stood alongside numerous individuals and families as they grapple with the aftermath of crime, offering assistance across a spectrum of crime types—from identity theft to assault, homicide, and even incidents of mass violence.

In our line of work, the anticipation of distressing events has unfortunately become routine. Yet, seldom do we pause to consider the possibility of such circumstances affecting one of our own. For those who may not know, ChewBeng has been our dedicated Accounts Manager here at VSS since 2014. The news of her tragic ordeal brought forth an overwhelming fear of losing one of our own, serving as a poignant reminder of life’s fragility and the resilience within our team. This stark reality mirrors the nature of crime itself—often, we fail to acknowledge that the unthinkable could affect one of “our own.” There is a tendency to believe that these incidents happen to “others,” a mindset that magnifies the shock when it hits close to home.

ChewBeng faced an unexpected tragedy with remarkable resilience. Her story is not just about surviving a DUI crash; it embodies the strength of the human spirit and the transformative force of a supportive community.  In sharing her journey, we are extending an invitation to be part of the healing process – a call to inspire empathy, compassion, and a collective commitment to aiding one another through life’s unexpected challenges. Our Revitalize and Thrive Campaign was initiated to bridge the financial gap so that we can continue to aid individuals like ChewBeng and her family, facilitating their journey toward recovery after the unimaginable.

Your contribution, regardless of its size, will significantly influence a survivor’s path to rebuilding and reclaiming their life after such a tragedy. Together, let us strive to not ignore the terrible things that “could” happen. Rather, let us turn a page in someone’s story; one filled with hope, resilience, and the promise of a brighter future.


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