Elena Bayerl said May 1 was the first and last time she will ever wear headphones while walking along railroad tracks.
Bayerl, 20, from Isanti, has had a long road to recovery since being hit by a train just south of Isanti around 3:30 p.m. May 1.
During an interview Sept. 30 from her future in-laws’ home in Isanti, Bayerl explained she was walking to the grocery store in Isanti with a couple of friends.
She was heading to the store to buy some items so she could bake some cookies to send to her fiance, Davis, who is deployed overseas with the Minnesota National Guard.
“I was walking on the left side of the plank along the railroad tracks heading to Isanti,” Bayerl said. “I typically don’t walk with headphones in, but I was in one of those moods where I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. My friends started yelling at me when they heard the train coming, but I didn’t hear them.”
Bayerl was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. After spending time there, she was transferred to Sister Kenny at Abbott Northwestern and then another rehabilitation facility. She was able to come home in mid-June.
“The doctors said they were shocked by the speed of my recovery,” Bayerl said. “I started regaining my memory around mid-May, and I just kept working toward my recovery.”
Bayerl suffered a wide range of injuries including fluid, bleeding and trauma to the brain, broken and splintered right arm, hand and wrist injuries, fluid in the abdomen, punctured lungs, spinal damage, neck injuries and broken ribs.
Long scars along her right arm and stomach are reminders of the number of surgeries she endured on her road to recovery.
“I still have limited physical movements with my right arm and wrist, but my future brother-in-law is helping with my physical therapy,” Bayerl said. “I’m lucky that I’m left-handed so that has helped.”
Bayerl wanted to talk about her recovery so people in the community know she’s doing OK.
“I want people to know that I’m alive, and I did survive,” Bayerl said. “I want people to know that I’m ready to work and am looking for a job. I have really enjoyed working with children in my previous jobs, so I’m hoping to find some type of job working with kids again.”
Bayerl explained her first memory after waking up in the hospital involved a young friend.
“My first memory after waking up is my family friend Lilly jumping on my bed because she has a new book she wants to read to me,” Bayerl said with a smile. “I really want to work with kids and help make a difference in their lives.”
Bayerl said she will never again walk along the railroad tracks with headphones in.
“Don’t ever listen to headphones and walk on the railroad tracks; no matter who you’re with or what you’re doing,” Bayerl said. “Being aware of your surroundings is important. And not all folks hit by a train can walk, much less be alive, after being hit and thrown by a train like I did. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Bayerl had the support of family and friends to lean on during her recovery.
“Thinking of Davis, and moving forward with him, as well as support from friends and family, have kept me going,” Bayerl said. “I just want everyone to know that I’m alive and still fighting. I fight and struggle every day with being alive. It’s just kind of weird getting myself accustomed to all this.”