Brownstown woman still recovering from 2019 wreck


When Kayia Davis was in the hospital after a serious wreck, a doctor told her husband, Brent Davis, that her first name in his native country means “Warrior.”

Around that time, one of her friends gave her a bracelet that had that same word inscribed on it. Her friend, however, wasn’t aware her name had that meaning in another language.

Warrior is used to describe a person who is very strong or brave and puts up a good fight in a battle.

That’s a good description of the 42-year-old Brownstown woman, who overcame the odds and survived a wreck in which her truck was struck nearly head-on late Thanksgiving night, Nov. 28, 2019.

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She went through various surgeries and rehabilitation until returning home July 15 and still is receiving therapy.

“(The doctor) was really religious and he actually told me he had been in medicine up there for 20-some years and he had never seen anybody with as many injuries as she had and still be alive,” Brent said. “He was pretty amazed.”

Kayia said she doesn’t remember much about what happened during the wreck. At the time, she was headed to Columbus to meet a couple of people to go Black Friday shopping.

She wound up being one of three people flown to Indianapolis hospitals after the two-vehicle crash in the 8000 block of North State Road 11 north of Seymour.

According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Catalina De Sebastian Francisco-Sebastian, 27, of Seymour was driving a 2007 Toyota passenger car south when it crossed the centerline and struck a 2017 Ford F150 pickup being driven by Davis.

The car came to rest in the southbound lane after impact, while the truck, which appeared to have rolled over, was over a guardrail and resting on trees on the driver’s side.

Kayia sustained leg, ankle and internal injuries, while Francisco-Sebastian had internal injuries and compound fractures to her arm and leg, and her son, David Francisco, 10, had a compound fracture in his leg and other injuries.

Police were told a man fled shortly before emergency personnel arrived at the scene. The next day, Detective Ben Rudolph joined Brad Barker, the investigating officer, and was able to identify the man as Emilio Jacinto Gomez, 19, of Seymour and locate him.

When Barker found Francisco-Sebastian’s wallet in her car, he said she had a fake identification and had never been licensed in the United States.

That led to him requesting charges through the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, including a Level 5 felony charge of reckless driving/aggressive driving with catastrophic injury and misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle while never having received a driver’s license and providing false information on a driver’s license application.

Francisco-Sebastian had her initial hearing Feb. 14, a motion for continuance was granted Sept. 21 and a pretrial conference Nov. 13 resulted in a jury trial being set for 8:30 a.m. March 30, 2021, in Jackson Circuit Court in Brownstown.

During Kayia’s first few days at Methodist Hospital, she suffered a stroke.

Brent said he was shown an image of her cerebellum and was told white was bad, and the whole thing was white.

“That’s why nobody really thought she had a chance,” he said. “Twice, they came in there and we had to talk with (doctors) about possibly just letting her go, but she still had a few more surgeries, and I told them, I said, ‘I can’t give up until we’ve tried everything. If she doesn’t make it through a surgery, at least we know we tried.'”

Kayia went through surgery on her right leg, which was caught in the dashboard after the wreck. She also had collapsed lungs, and her stomach was up near her shoulder.

Doctors said some of her injuries would heal on their own.

“She has a rod from her knee all the way down on her right leg, and she’s got pins in that right foot, and then her heel was completely shattered,” said Haylee Gullion, who works for Adaptive Nursing and Healthcare Services in Seymour and has served as Kayia’s daytime caregiver since August.

“At first, it needed reconstructed, but they went in and did the absolute minimum because they didn’t know if she was going to pull through or not,” Gullion said. “As she progressed, they did more X-rays on it, and it had completely healed on its own.”

Next, Kayia spent time at Kindred Hospital in Indianapolis.

“She was getting better at Kindred, and then she had so many stomach problems, so they couldn’t really do therapy,” Brent said. “She drew up really bad, and it was almost like she went into a coma because she couldn’t open her eyes.”

The weekend of their eldest son Ethan’s 16th birthday in February was the first time in two weeks Kayia opened her eyes, and nearly 30 people gathered in the hospital cafeteria for a birthday celebration.

From there, she went to Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis and Hoosier Christian Village in Brownstown for physical, occupational and speech therapy. The plan was to improve her speech and work toward being able to walk again.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kayia could only have window visits from family and friends. By June, visits were allowed outside while wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

On July 15, she was able to go home. One of the first things she did was open Christmas presents that were still wrapped under the tree inside their home.

“It made me very happy to be home,” she said. “I opened all of my Christmas presents and cards that I had gotten because I couldn’t do anything.”

She also looked at pictures from the wreck.

“I look at them and I’m like, ‘Wow! How did anybody walk away from the vehicle?'” Kayia said. “I’m lucky to be alive.”

While she was happy to be home, Kayia still had a lot of work to do to get better.

For two months, she had in-home therapy — speech once a week and physical and occupational two or three times a week.

Since then, she has gone to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour for outpatient therapy. Gullion said Kayia just finished speech therapy and now undergoes occupational and physical therapy three times a week.

One way she has seen progress is Kayia’s ability to stand up out of her wheelchair.

“I’ll park her wheelchair by her recliner, and if she’s got her belt on, then I’ll hold onto her belt, and if she doesn’t, then I’ll just hold onto her arm,” Gullion said. “Sometimes, when she’s worn out after a therapy session, I’ve got to pull her up out of that chair. Then (recently), I was putting her in the car to go to therapy, she stood right up out of that wheelchair and I didn’t even help her.”

Gullion has tried to help Kayia through the ups and downs of recovery.

“She lived an everyday life — mom, work, cooking, cleaning. In the blink of an eye, someone took that away from her, and it’s hard,” Gullion said. “I see her struggle, and that breaks my heart, and it’s hard because you put yourself in those shoes and it’s like, ‘How would I feel?’ because it wouldn’t be easy for anybody, and she’s taking it like a champ.”

Kayia said talking to her mother, Sandra Groenenboom, and her husband and sons lifts her spirits and helps her push forward.

“My boys just treat me like mom, and my husband will listen to me. He has been a trouper,” she said.

She also has been motivated by friends, other family members and people in the community, who have provided words of encouragement, prayed or assisted financially.

Money was raised for the family through a community benefit auction at Pewter Hall and a fundraiser at Blondie’s Pizzeria and Pub, both in Brownstown.

One of her friends, Jodi Tiemeyer, created the Kayia’s Journey Facebook to update people on her progress and advertise the fundraisers.

On Kayia’s 42nd birthday July 21, Tiemeyer organized a surprise drive-by celebration, during which people made signs for Kayia and gave her balloons, cards and gifts.

“It was very, very heartwarming to have them come,” Kayia said. “It means a lot to have all of the support from the community. It’s heartwarming to know that everybody is supporting me. I know God is good.”

A native of Scott County, Kayia has lived in Brownstown for 16 years. She worked the last six years as the lunch fund treasurer at Brownstown Central High School.

She hopes to someday return to work and drive again.

Also, when she’s able to walk better, Kayia and Brent want to return to Indianapolis to reunite with the nurses and doctors who cared for her. Brent said the nurses at Methodist visited her at Kindred, kept up with her progress on Facebook and bought Kayia Strong T-shirts.

That support and others who rallied around Kayia mean a lot to the family.

“I know miracles happen all of the time and people get better that weren’t supposed to, but she had a lot of prayers going out and a lot of support from the town and people we know,” Brent said. “I had a hard time accepting help at first, and a lot of people would be like, ‘What can we do?’ … People are just so willing to help.”

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