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I-435 crash victim makes remarkable strides, has new outlook on life years later

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Three years ago Lacey Deardoff lay in a hospital bed in critical condition after being hit by a car on Interstate 435.

She was a good Samaritan who stopped to help another motorist who had been in a car crash when she was hit and left close to death.

Not only did Deardoff survive, she is better than ever. If not for a few faint scars, you would never know she has been through such trauma, and says the most difficult thing now is wondering why she lived when so many others in her situation don't make it.

Three years ago when she was in intensive care at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, FOX 4 was not allowed to video her face that had been so badly damaged when she was hit by a car. But as she gave us a thumbs up, there was a glimpse of her killer smile, which was immediately recognizable when FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien spoke with her on Monday.

"The last three years has been a whirlwind,” she said.

“I have seen what it is like laying in a hospital bed and your world is just completely turned upside down, so to be here and to be where I am at is huge."

Deardoff was on her way to work May 24, 2014, when she stopped on I-435 to help a woman who had been in a car crash. A van swerved to avoid debris on the roadway and hit Deardoff, critically injuring the then 24-year-old. It would be the start of a long journey to recovery where she would learn to walk, talk and live again.

“When I was in ICU I wasn't too motivated, I was still sad and upset and trying to wrap my mind around everything. But once I got to Madonna, to the rehab facility, I saw a lot of people who were in worse conditions than I was, and that's when I was like, alright, let’s do this,” Deardoff said.

Since the accident, Deardoff not only learned to walk and talk again, she earned her master’s degree in health care administration and a promotion at Quintiles, where she worked before the accident. They are all things she says would not have happened if not for her new outlook on life.

"I hated that comment in the hospital, and people would say everything happens for a reason, and I hated it because I am thinking I am in the hospital bed, you aren't, so why did this happen? But now I am starting to see some truth in that,” she said.

Deardoff says even with all she has been through she does not regret stopping to help the woman who had been in the wreck. She says she would do it again, because we are supposed to help others.