Murray community rallies to bring injured teen home

Published: Tuesday, July 8 2014 4:20 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, July 9 2014 2:39 p.m. MDT

Makenzie Morris is with her mother, Shannon Morris, in the hospital after Makenzie was in a car accident in Louisiana. Family and friends from her hometown in Murray are rallying to raise money for her to be transported home.

Jeff Morris

MURRAY — Family and friends of a Murray girl who was involved in a rollover car crash in Louisiana are rallying together to raise money to bring her home.

Makenzie Morris, 18, remained in a Louisiana hospital Tuesday undergoing a series of surgeries following the crash. Among her many injuries, her right leg was amputated from the thigh down.

Janae Hutchins, a family friend, said Morris will need months of rehabilitation following her surgeries.

"They're trying to raise $25,000 to get her medically flown back to Utah after she's stable to make the transfer," Hutchins said. "Otherwise she's going to have to stay in Louisiana to do her rehab."

Morris, who went to Louisiana for her senior trip after graduating from Murray High School, was riding with friends on June 25 in Allen Parish at 3 a.m. when the crash happened.

The driver was identified in the police report as Blake Celestine, a boy she met while in Louisiana. Celestine told police he was driving 80-90 mph when he hit a bump in the road. He lost control of the car before it went into a ditch, hit a tree, and rolled before coming to a stop upside down.

According to the report, Celestine was arrested for driving while under the influence. Celestine and another passenger, Brett Yazzie, were transported to the Allen Parish Hospital. Their injuries were unknown.

Jeff Morris, Makenzie's father, said his daughter had a severe concussion, a broken jaw, at least eight broken ribs, a collapsed right lung, and a broken sacrum. Doctors weren't able to save her leg, which was amputated up to the thigh.

"We know we have a huge support system at home, and it's refreshing to know we have this support system here, of just complete and total strangers come and kind of, you know, shoulder some of the burden with us," Shannon Morris said.

"I can't say enough of just how generous everyone in Louisiana has been to us. Literally, it’s that Southern hospitality."

Jeff and Shannon Morris were put up in an empty hospital room so they can stay with their daughter. Jeff Morris said he's headed back to Utah at the end of the week to take care of their other three children at home.

Monday, Makenzie Morris was stable enough after fighting off infection to undergo surgery on her jaw.

"She’s just one tough cookie," he said. "This girl is, they don’t come any stronger than this girl and just how she’s handled everything."

He, his family and Makenzie have been overwhelmed with the love that has been shown.

"She's truly, had no idea that so many people even knew her," Jeff Morris said. "She's just overwhelmed with the love and outpouring of concern."

Jeff Morris said the accident has brought soul-searching for him and his family.

"We need to love each other more. We need to hold each other more. We need to be kinder to one another and just be more forgiving," he said.

"Priorities. We’ve just got to reprioritize what’s important in our lives. It’s really helped us give us direction."

Hutchins said there has been an outpouring of help for the family with bake sales, and a gofundme and YouCaring page. A Zumba class on Wednesday at the Dance Image Academy, where Makenzie used to dance, will bring $5 per participant for the family.

The event is from 7-9 p.m., and Zumba will be from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at 3245 W. 7800 South in West Jordan. There will also be other items available for purchase to raise money.

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

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