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A star on and off the tennis court recovers from freak accident

Annabelle Webb, a varsity tennis player and top student at HHS, was injured on April 9. Annabelle Webb, a varsity tennis player and top student at HHS, was injured on April 9.

A peanut and butter jelly picnic turned into a horrific accident for Annabelle Webb.


Annabelle and her boyfriend, Polk County High School student Tyler Oxtoby, had tied a hammock between two trees at Jackson Park. One of the trees was dead. It snapped suddenly and came down on Annabelle’s face, fracturing her skull, crushing an eye socket and flattening her nose.
The accident on April 9 sent her to Pardee and then Mission Hospital. She’s recovered now and back at Hendersonville High School, where she’s a star on the tennis court and in the classroom.
Chris Bull, the owner of the Hendersonville Racquet Club, announced Wednesday that the club is holding a fundraiser on Friday to help cover her medical expenses.

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Annabelle, 17, has no memory of the accident.
“I remember the sirens at Jackson Park,” she said. “I remember them pulling up but I didn’t open my eyes until I got to Pardee.”
“She has absolutely no defensive wounds,” added her mother, Kara.,
The afternoon of the accident, she got a call at work. The rest is a blur of hospital rooms, upsetting sights and scary medical words.
“I received a call,” Kara said. “He gave me his name. He did everything right.” She remembered nothing except the caller’s words: “She’s been in an accident.”
Car wreck, she thought at first. The man on the phone said, “She’s going to be OK. A tree hit her.”
“Then my head went spinning — did he just say ‘a tree hit her?’ Then he said, ‘She got a pump knot. We’re going to take her to Pardee. Do not drive fast. You’re going to beat us there.’”

The Hendersonville Racquet Club is holding a fundraiser Friday to help cover medical expenses for Annabelle Webb. A pro exhibition doubles match will be played at 5:30 followed by a round robin play at 6:30. A silent action will be held with donations from HRC, Crate Wine Market, Sunburst Trout Farms, Tennis Pros Dylan Jicha & Bobbie Garrett, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and others. Food, beer and wine will be served. The event is open to the public. To reserve a spot in the round robin or to donate money or a silent auction item, call 693-0040 or e-mail chris@hvillerc.com.

The caller was right.
Kara and her husband, Charles, were waiting at the ER when the ambulance pulled in. Medical personnel had already transported Annabelle to radiology when the Webbs walked into the treatment room.
“Her shoes are on the floor and her purse is on the tabletop and a bloody towel is in the sink,” Kara said. “She had gone to have the scan. And she came in the room and she’s so sweet and so dear and she looked terrible. But she raised up and she could see me and she held up her hand and she said, ‘I love you Mama.’
“I came over and I held her hand and I started noticing that she could move, she was moving her hand, she was moving her toes and she was being verbal so I’m thinking this is bad but it’s not as bad as it could’ve been. And then we start hearing chatter about the skull fracture and moving to Mission. Next thing we know we’re leaving Pardee and going to Mission.”
She was hospitalized at Mission through Thursday. Doctors could not yet operate on her skull and face because of the swelling. She came back on Monday, April 18.
“It’s called bicoronal,” Kara said of the surgery. In a nine-hour operation, two surgeons “peeled her face down and they put titanium in to rebuild her. They added several titanium plates.” Her face is remarkably smooth, unmarred by scars or any sign of the traumatic injury. The swelling that remains will go down over a period weeks.

 

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One of four lead junior marshals at HHS, Annabelle started thinking about schoolwork before the blood dried.
“In fact, after the injury but before the surgery when we got home, she woke up Friday morning asking me to get her AP biology book and she was in bed reading that,” Kara said.
“I did an entire outline,” Annabelle added.
“And this was a major head injury,” Kara added. “The whole time she was very lucid. I’m freaking out and I’m missing details. Medical staff is coming in and telling us things and I’m trying to digest it but I’m missing so many of the details. I’m having conversations with other adults and she’d correct and say, ‘No, they said this.’”
Teachers at HHS have been patient and supportive. Knowing she’s a good student, they told her to take her time in catching up.
“They’ve been so good and so kind and gracious,” Kara said. “Everyone has — my job,” she added, holding up her General Electric ID badge. “People in the community, the racquet club, having fundraiser. We’ve seen the best side of Hendersonville.”
Annabelle recovered well enough to attend her high school prom on Saturday night. Pam Bolton, a teacher and prom coordinator, “was just very concerned about Annabelle and her mobility,” Kara said. “She was just very, very thoughtful — outside of being an educator.”
No. 2 on the Bearcat team, she won the Western Highlands Conference title in singles. She’ll play No. 1 in her senior year. She misses the workouts and fully expects to be back swatting balls before the fall season.