On Aug. 9, 2007, TheBAYNET.com published an article about a crash on state Route 235. A pickup truck pulled out of the exit for San Souci Plaza at a red light in front of oncoming traffic, cutting off Tiffany Patke, an expecting mother.

Tiffany Patke is strapped to a stretcher
and prepared for air-evacuation.

“I don’t remember the accident,” said Tiffany, attempting to recall the day’s events. “I hit my head on the steering wheel. I was dazed and disoriented.”

When the medics arrived on the scene, Tiffany kept asking Allison, the EMT-B who stayed with Tiffany on her trip to the hospital, “Where’s my husband?”

“The most shocking thing is when I got the call,” added Jeff Patke, Tiffany’s husband, who had been on the phone with Tiffany moments before the impact, “I picked up and said, ‘what is it now (in a playful tone),’ but it wasn’t Tiffany.”

Tiffany was taken to Trooper 7’s hangar in St. Mary’s County and flown to Prince George’s Shock Trauma. Because she worked at the Sheriff’s Department, she knew the troopers in the helicopter with her. “They were very comforting.” She said they spoke to her as if nothing was wrong and she would be fine.

Jeff’s bosses at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station were very supportive when he got the call. “They just said go.” Later, his program officers and fellow employees would send flowers to Tiffany’s hospital room and home.

Jeff joined Tiffany at the hospital, leaving their two sons in daycare until about 6 p.m., when he felt comfortable to leave the hospital. Tiffany was kept just over 24 hours for observation. Jeff returned to her side the next morning.

“I was about six months pregnant at the time,” said Tiffany. “Shock Trauma’s main concern was the baby.”

The airbags on the Chrysler van did not inflate at the time of impact, probably protecting Tiffany and the baby from more severe injuries. Jeff inquired with Chrysler as to why the airbags did not inflate. A representative explained to him that the airbags are triggered when there is an impact involving the front bumper. Because the pickup’s bumper hit above the van’s bumper, it did not trigger the airbags to inflate.

“It’s just a hidden miracle,” remarked Jeff.

Tiffany did suffer minor back pains and lost feeling in her left arm for a period of time. “I couldn’t hold anything in my left hand,” she said. She regained full function after about a week, but said her back still gives her problems to this day.

Mason Grant Patke

The most frustrating thing for Tiffany after the accident was confusion over the sex of the baby. “Originally we had been told he was a girl,” Tiffany explained. “Then our doctors discovered he was a boy.”