The Bend in the Road

Maria was living her dreams.

Editor’s Note: Maria Rea suffered horrible injuries in a one-car accident. She was unconscious for a week, heavily sedated for 6 weeks, and lived in the hospital for 9 months. Her life, the life of her family, and the life of her community were changed forever on February 25, 2011, when Maria answered a telephone call on her cell phone as she was driving to work. This remarkable story tells the true story of a courageous woman and the family and the community that never gave up on her. Part 1 of a 5 part series.

In high school, Maria Rea was a majorette, and her future husband, Shane played baseball. They were high school sweethearts.  Maria graduated from Jeff Davis High School in Hazlehurst, Georgia and went to college at Georgia Southern University and received a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development and certification in Early Childhood Education. Maria recalls “I’d always wanted to be a teacher and work with children. Shane always had been a computer fanatic, and wanted to get a job working with computers. After gradation we got married had two beautiful children, Dylan and Rylie Brook. My husband was a computer tech and I taught Pre-K. We were both living our dreams.”

On February 25, 2011, Maria had just dropped her one year old daughter off at daycare on her way to work. It was raining and she was running late. Her best friend called her cell phone to see why she was late to work, and a moment after reaching for the phone, her life changed forever. “I looked down for a split second to pick up the phone and answer it, ran off the road and went down an embankment into a steep ditch. My family told me later that I was thrown through the driver’s side window and landed 75-feet from my car. The left side of my body was ripped and torn.”

After the accident happened, Maria’s first thoughts were of her children.

A police officer happened to be driving along the same stretch of road, and saw the dirt and debris from the field where Maria’s car stopped. The impact of the crash caused Rylie Brook’s car seat and stroller to be thrown from the car, so after he found Maria, the officer called both the daycare and school to make sure Rylie Brook and Dylan hadn’t been in the car.

Next: Maria Rea’s Dance with Death

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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