A Floyd County woman’s continuing recovery from a car crash has encouraged her loved ones and the community that has rallied behind her.
Alicia Robertson and husband Paul had been married only two weeks before a head-on collision on Virginia 8 injured them, his daughter, and another local woman.
The Robertsons were traveling to a women’s conference at their church on July 21.
A witness to the crash heard a pop. “The tire blew out on my car, and that’s what caused it,” said Paul Robertson, who said he remembers only bits and pieces from that day. At some point during the accident, he said his wife was turning around to check on his daughter, Alaina, 4, who was secured in the back seat. “Her focus was on Alaina … I remember reaching over and grabbing her and saying ‘Lord, keep Alicia safe.’ ”
The Robertsons were seriously injured. He was in a coma for several days. His wife was on life support even longer.
“It was said — I don’t know the source — they weren’t expecting us to make it through the night, but we’re still here,” Paul Robertson said.
Alicia Robertson suffered a severe brain injury, broken ribs and broken bones in both feet. The broken bones have all healed. She is still recovering from the brain injury and is in rehab working on her memory, fine motor skills, walking and daily tasks.
Paul Robertson, transportation supervisor for Floyd County Public Schools, had a minor brain injury, shattered femur, major abdominal trauma and internal bleeding as a result of the crash. He ended up having seven surgeries, basically one a day for a week, Robin Robertson, his mother, said. “They had to take out a section of his colon … Every day they kept going in to see if they could attach it back together.”
Alaina, who had a concussion and was very bruised, was released from the hospital in a few days. The other woman in the crash was also released from the hospital.
Alicia Robertson was an EMT with the Riner Volunteer Rescue Squad before the couple married. She had left that job to devote time to their ministry. Paul Robertson sings and plays the piano and organ, and Alicia sings and plays the drums and bass. They are part of All For Jesus Ministries.
Robin said after the car crash, the rescue squad “helped us so much. They gave us food. We’d wake up in the morning, and we had breakfast. We had supper, anything we wanted. They gave us [her and Alicia’s mother, Lisa Marks] a blow-up mattress so we were able to sleep comfortably. … We were able to put it in the waiting area. They took great care of us.”
The mothers have stayed by their bedsides.
Paul Robertson said his wife’s therapist and neurologist were “glowing” when they recently told him how well her recovery is going. “I truly believe that God had everything to do with it,” said Paul Robertson.
“We had so much support that night when we wrecked from my church [Walton Pentecostal Holiness in Radford] and all the churches in the area where we’d ministered,” he said. “Hundreds of people showed up at the hospital and filled the waiting rooms. The hospital [as one nurse said] put us in ‘celebrity mode’ and locked down all of our medical information. Anybody that had access to give us medicine, they had to do what was called ‘breaking the glass’ to get our information and explain why they were there, just because we had so many people following us.”
Several fundraisers, including one by Medical Charities of Floyd County, have been started to raise money for the family’s expenses.
Alaina had a difficult time getting in a car a short while after the crash, but Paul Robertson said she has gotten better.
“Physically, I’m not in much pain, just limited on what I can do,” Paul Robertson said. “Every day I’m getting better. My biggest pain is heart pain because my sweetie is still in the hospital. That hurts more than anything.”
When Alicia Robertson was in a coma, it was important to talk to her and remain positive, the family said. After she woke up from the coma, doctors had been trying to get her to talk. Paul Robertson said she wouldn’t respond and the doctors were concerned. Doctors connected with Paul on FaceTime (because he was in another hospital for rehab). When Alicia saw him, she spoke her first words: “I love you, Paul,” the family said.
More than 20 years ago, Paul Robertson said, he met Alicia and her family, who had a traveling ministry, when they visited his church in Meadows of Dan. She was playing the drums. He was 13 years old.
His grandfather, who was the pastor, took them out to eat after the church service and then gave them both $20 and sent them to the shopping mall, he said. She found a pair of shoes she wanted; they cost $40. She only had $20, so Paul said he gave her his money, too. Her family teased her for taking his money, and it has been a joke for years. He says it was the best $20 he had ever invested.
Alicia eventually moved to Washington, D.C., but Paul had seen her through the years. He went to India with her family seven times, as part of her parents’ ministries. Her parents eventually started coming to his church, where he serves as associate worship leader. Then in October 2018, Alicia moved back to town and came to the church. Paul said he worked to win her heart.
Paul said he would describe Alicia’s progress as a miracle. One doctor who initially saw Alicia at the hospital and had been out of town awhile said it was “unbelievable,” he said, and was crying as she watched her climb stairs during a therapy session.
When they were dating, Alicia remarked that if she ever became bedridden, it wouldn’t be fair to him as a husband. He told her if that happened, he would crawl in bed with her.
“My goal is when she comes through all this, she can stand back and say ‘he stuck with me through everything,’ ” he said.