'Lucky to be alive'

Of the four Ashland teens involved in a Tuesday night car crash, one has been released and three others are undergoing medical treatment.

"They are absolutely lucky to be alive," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters, adding that the driver was speeding between 80 mph and 90 mph. The speed limit for North Valley View Road, the location of the accident, is 45 mph.

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Hospital officials said Wednesday that the driver, Samantha Laverne Loper, 17, of Ashland was in serious condition with a broken back. Devian Joss,15, and Ila Jade McTaggart,12, were in fair condition and Miranda Christina Joss, 12, was released after treatment.

According to a parent who has been at the hospital, Devian Joss had bone fragments in her spinal fluid and was going into surgery to remove them as of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The driver was taken into surgery the night of the crash and came out in the early hours of Wednesday, at which time a surgeon talked to Loper's parents. As of last night it was reported that Loper has sensation in her limbs, the possibility of being paralyzed hasn't been ruled out, but another parent said, "right now there is still hope."

The minors were on their way to get some snacks at a Minute Market when it was suggested that they go for a drive up North Valley View Road.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said Loper was speeding in her Dodge Neon while traveling south on North Valley View Road when she missed a right curve. The car skidded about 200 feet on the road, then left the roadway and hurtled roughly 100 feet through the air before hitting the ground again and rolling multiple times, he said.

The crushed and battered car landed on its wheels in a field near the intersection of East Valley View Road, the sheriff said.

The car left the road at a driveway in the 1100 block of North Valley View Road and the residents heard the crash and called 9-1-1, Winters said.

Crews from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 had to extricate Loper and her three passengers from the car.

Miranda Joss was sitting in the only seat without a working seat belt but was the first one released from the hospital after being treated.

McTaggart is scheduled to see an orthopedic specialist sometime today to look into a possible compression of her spine.

"The fact that the (specialist) didn't rush over gave us hope that it's not a dire situation," said Sierra Safady, stepfather of McTaggart's.

He said that McTaggart was covered in glass from all the busted windows of the vehicle when she arrived at the hospital. As she was being carried into the emergency room with her mother and aunt by her side, McTaggart looked up at them and said a line from one of her favorite quotable movies, Taldega Nights.

"Help me Tom Cruise, help me Jewish God, help me Jesus," she reportedly said, illustrating her ability for comic relief.

Safady said she is in good spirits and the family is optimistic about her condition improving.

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