Miraculous recovery for runner after being struck by a distracted driver

Anne Dutton competing in the Baltimore Women's Classic 9 months after her accident
Anne Dutton competing in the Baltimore Women’s Classic 9 months after her accident

Anne Dutton is a runner.  She is also a survivor. The 24-year old competed in high school and college in the Midwest where she grew up, running track and cross-country. Anne continued to run following graduation, training for and competing in multiple races. Running was a way of life for Anne.

In September of 2012 she was in Baltimore visiting family and walking in a crosswalk during daylight hours when she was struck and seriously injured by a distracted cab driver.  She was thrown onto the hood of his car and back down onto the street.

dutton 2Anne suffered multiple fractures to her left arm, shoulder and pelvis. She required more than 9 hours of surgery, needed plates and pins to stabilize her shoulder and an external fixator to immobilize her pelvis.  She spent 12 days in the trauma unit and 3 weeks in the hospital. The fixator wasn’t removed until 2 months after the accident. Anne spent 8 weeks flat on her back, unable to walk or bear weight.   Doctors were candid and said she might never run again.

Despite the doctors’ conjecture, while she was recovering, Anne knew that she needed to try to run again. Anne needed to learn to walk and it was not until 6 months after her accident, that she ran again for the first time. “My emotional recovery was just as important as my physical recovery – I focused on what I could do – one step at a time.”  Once she was able to jog 2 miles she knew she had to try to run a 5k, 3.1 miles. She searched for a 5k that she could enter in Baltimore, where her accident took place.  When asked why she wanted her first race to be in Baltimore, she said, “I was hurt in Baltimore and I needed to come full circle. I wanted to show that city who was boss.”

duttonOn June 23rd Anne ran in the Baltimore Women’s Classic. Before the race she had not even run a 5k in training. Anne was not concerned about her time for the race; just completing it would be a miraculous feat. During the race, Anne said that she felt so good at the 2.8 mile mark that she picked up her pace. “I was only feeling the motion – I felt like I was flying. From spending so much time immobile to returning to what I loved, I was giddy as I crossed the finish line.”

When asked about her tenacity and courage Anne demurs and credits others. “We often think of running as an individual sport but this was a team effort – I could not have done this without the doctors, my family and friends. I am so lucky to have had their support.”

Ann Dutton (center) after the Baltimore Women's Classic in June
Ann Dutton (center) after the Baltimore Women’s Classic in June

Anne readily admits that before the accident she never questioned her health or that she would be able to use her body to its fullest. It was terrifying for her to confront that possibility as she realized that there are some things in life that can’t  be controlled.

Anne is continuing to run and compete. Her other passion is immigration reform.  A former Advocacy Assistant for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Anne  concluded that she could be even more effective by becoming a lawyer. She is now in  first year of law school in Minnesota.

When asked to reflect on all that has happened over the last 16 months she said, “ I now know that there is nothing more important than family and friends -they are a gift and if there is a miracle here it is that through the love and support of others we can accomplish so much.”

Related Links:

Anne Dutton: A true survivor keeps on moving”,  November 8, 2013, MileSplit.us

Anne Dutton: A true survivor goes full circle”, July 1, 2013, MileSplit.us

Baltimore Women’s Classic