Sierra Johnson , teen badly hurt in I-4 crash, called 'a fighter'

12:42 AM, Sep 10, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Teen badly hurt in I-4 crash called "a fighter"

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LAKELAND, Florida -- A 17-year-old girl from the Bay area is fighting for her life tonight after she was badly hurt in a wreck on I-4.

Sierra Johnson was traveling with her church, Journey Assembly Church of God in Bradenton, to the "Rock the Universe" concert in Orlando on Saturday. 

The van Johnson was in flipped into the median on I-4 in Polk County when a tire exploded. Johnson was thrown from the van and landed on her head. Now, she's at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. She underwent surgery earlier Sunday, and had a hole drilled into her skull so a stint could be inserted to monitor pressure. She's experiencing a lot of pressure on her brain stem, and doctors said without surgery, she could go brain dead within two days. Her family is hopeful and optimistic, just as they say she would be.

"[Doctors] have not given a lot of hope, but we believe God for miracles and we have people all over the world praying for her right now," says her aunt, Jodie DeHart. "She's kind of the glue that just holds the family together."

Johnson was one of seven students from the church in the van when it rolled over. Three of them were treated and released at a hospital in Haines City, near the crash site. Three others were monitored overnight at the hospital.

Johnson is a student at Manatee School of the Arts, an active member of her church who has been helping to raise her two nephews, and this year, she received the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award.

Recently, she, her mother and sister got matching tattoos that read, "This too shall pass." That means even more to her family now. They've started a Facebook page with regular updates about her condition, and they'll soon open a fund for donations. Family members say there is no insurance to cover her medical costs.

"Sierra's a fighter, and I think she would tell us, 'Don't you give up. You keep praying and believe in God for me, whatever happens, I want you to continue to go on with your lives,'" DeHart says.

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