Community supports young crash victim

MONKTON — The family of a Monkton teen severely injured in a car accident last week is grateful for the outpouring of community support they have received.
Julia Rickner, 18, was one of three University of Vermont students in a car that veered off of Interstate 89 in Colchester on April 4. The driver, 19-year-old Jacob Dahreddin of Bethesda, Md., was critically injured and the other passenger, 18-year-old Christina Menke of Essex, was killed.
Rickner, a first-year nursing student and 2014 graduate of Mount Abraham Union High School, remained in intensive care at UVM Medical Center as of late last week. Her parents told the Independent they have been blown away by the support both the university and five-town community have shown since the accident.
“We are stunned by the overwhelming support,” said Julia’s mother, Bristol Elementary School teacher Deb Mager Rickner. “I’ve never felt so safe and supported in my life.”
Julia’s father, Mark Rickner, said friends and neighbors have helped out “in every way you can find imaginable.”
“At the Bristol Bakery, they’re more than willing to make sure you get a cup of coffee,” he said. “Food keeps showing up nonstop.”
He added that people have offered to drive Julia’s brother, Eli, to and from school at Mount Abraham, where he is a freshman. A longtime family friend, Gabrielle Jensen, has also set up the giveforward.com online crowdfunding campaign to help the family cover expenses as they care for Julia. The page can be found at http://bit.ly/1PssLiF.
Jensen said she set the goal for the fundraiser at $1,000, but that was surpassed in just a few hours. As of Friday morning, 96 donors had pledged $4,600. Jensen said those who have given include friends, neighbors and even Mount Abraham students, chipping in five or 10 dollars apiece.
“Everyone in town, everyone around here has been great,” she said. “People want to show how much they care.”
Mager Rickner said scores of UVM students have kept a constant vigil at the hospital, waiting to visit with both Julia and Dahreddin, who as of Thursday remained in serious condition.
Julia’s father said his daughter faces a long rehabilitation, but doctors expect her to make a full recovery. In the next week, she will likely move from the intensive care unit to an in-patient treatment in a different area of the hospital. Mark Rickner said it is too early to estimate when Julia may be able to return home, but that will not be for several weeks.
Mager Ricker said her daughter and Dahreddin took Menke to Jay Peak to celebrate Menke’s upcoming birthday, and that the students were acting responsibly at the time of the crash. State police do not believe alcohol, drugs or speed were factors in the accident, and noted that everyone was wearing a seatbelt. Police suspect Dahreddin may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
“They weren’t doing anything stupid,” she said. “They were just three sweet kids doing something for one of them.”
Mark Rickner, an EMT with the Bristol Rescue Squad, said he wanted to thank first responders from Essex, Colchester and UVM for their quick response to the scene.

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