LAKELAND, Florida -- The parents of the optimistic, popular 17-year-old injured in a church van crash on I-4 this weekend say they take her fight for life not by the day, but by the second.
The pressure on Sierra Johnson's brain, and her brain stem in particular, are constantly fluctuating. The bruising on her body is starting to heal, and her fever has gone down. However, her parents say internally, she's heading in a different direction than she needs to.
But for Suzanne and Curt Johnson, there is no such thing as giving up.
"Sierra will make it," Curt told 10 News in a one-on-one interview. "If she continues the fight and we continue to hope, we have a better chance than if we give up hope."
They rebuild that hope every time they watch videos of Sierra, her beautiful singing voice echoing throughout her longtime church, Journey Assembly Church of God in Bradenton.
"That's what we love about her. She's so soulful," her mother, Suzanne, says. "I'm just so proud of her. She's such an inspiration."
No matter the direction Sierra's fight takes now, her parents are thankful for the past and hopeful for the future.
"I had the honor of raising her for 17 and 3/4 years. I could have not had that," Curt says. "According to the paramedic, she shouldn't even be lying in that bed. When he showed up at the scene, he says she bled so much that one of the people there said she was dead. It's a miracle. So the fact that I can go [into her hospital room] and kiss a warm forehead instead of a cold forehead is huge. We're getting this much more time with her."
Sierra's family and friends have started a Facebook page to post updates on her condition, as well as a website where people can donate and learn more about her.