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Northern Kentucky School Bus Crash Changed Youngsters' Lives

CRITTENDEN, Ky. (AP) - Cody Shively doesn't swim or play soccer anymore.

His life changed when the school bus he was riding in crashed in January. Since then, Cody receives physical, occupational and speech therapy three times a week. He faces more surgeries, but hopes to make it back to school to start his eighth-grade year.

"I'm going back to school," the 12-year-old northern Kentucky boy said. "I'm going back all five days. I'm staying all day."

Cody was injured when bus driver Angelynna Young, with drugs in her system, crashed the vehicle into a pole along U.S. 25 in Dry Ridge in Grant County on Jan. 17.

In all, the crash sent two middle school students to the hospital and injured 15 others.

Young, 29, was sentenced to 22 years in prison this month after pleading guilty to 25 counts of drug possession, wanton endangerment and assault. Prosecutors said she had taken drugs, including cocaine, the night before the accident and that morning.

Another student injured in the crash, 14-year-old Jake Clise, cannot completely close his left eye when he sleeps. He has trouble falling asleep because a sliver of light comes in through the space where his eyelid used to be.

Jake has steel titanium plates in his head. He can't taste or smell, and he suffered brain damage. Jake spent 11 days in a Lexington hospital and now lives with his father and stepmother in Glencoe.

"He's very strong," said Jake's grandmother, Donna Yeager. "He's doing good, under the circumstances. But he doesn't want the fuss."

Cody Shively was the most severely injured student in the crash.

After three months recuperating at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cody has been living at home the past three months. But there are more surgeries to come, and more obstacles to overcome.

"Sometimes he gets frustrated," said his mother, Tammy Shively, "but we tell him that if he wants to go back to school in the fall, he has to keep working."

Yeager said Jake will undergo more surgery in August to attempt to correct the eyelid he lost in the crash.

But other incidents have happened in the Clise family since January that might not have occurred if not for the accident, Yeager said.

Stacey Clise, Jake's 38-year-old mother, was found unconscious in her Crittenden home March 23 and died a day later at St. Luke Hospital West. An autopsy revealed she had overdosed on OxyContin. It is unclear whether the overdose was intentional.

"I hope it was accidental," said Yeager, Stacey Clise's mother. "But I feel that no matter what, it wouldn't have happened if not for the bus crash and the stress she went through."

The Clises, Shivelys and parents of at least five other students in the crash have sued Young and Grant County school district officials for punitive damages.

"Based upon the fact this woman pled guilty, there isn't many other issues to be decided," said Independence attorney Eric Deters, who represents the Clise family.

Meanwhile, the Shively family continues to adjust to changes.

When Cody sleeps, he cannot roll over on his left side. If he does, he could do further damage to his skull and brain. To keep him from rolling over, his parents have installed rails on his bed to keep him in place.

Every other day, Cody goes to therapy. His father, Steve, who works for a heating and air conditioning company, probably won't go back to work. His 9-year-old brother, Dustin, has grown up quickly, and has been seen comforting relatives at court hearings. His mom, Tammy, tries to keep Cody motivated.

"He was so active before the accident," Tammy Shively said. "He was a great soccer player, and he was a worker. He loved to cut the grass. Now, he can't do those things, so we try different things to motivate him."

Cody will undergo surgery July 23 to have a piece of his skull reattached. The piece is being held in a freezer at the hospital.

After that, more surgeries are inevitable, Tammy Shively said.

"We really don't know when it'll all be finished," she said.

Tammy Shively, who works for the Internal Revenue Service, will head back to work, she says. She's lucky because co-workers have donated vacation time to her.

The bus driver's recent sentencing put an end to a chapter of their saga, Steve Shively said, but there is still much more to go - for Cody, Jake and their families.

"Nobody can really tell you how long all of this is going to take," Tammy Shively said. "Thankfully, our lives weren't ruined - our son is still here. Our lives were just changed, and it's hard because you want to fix it, but you can't fix it.

"We're just doing all we can to make it better."
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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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