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Nurse and patient are all smiles at reunion

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  • | 4:00 a.m. August 18, 2011
Tonya Herschberger and Linda Keefe. Courtesy Photo.
Tonya Herschberger and Linda Keefe. Courtesy Photo.
  • Sarasota
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Four years ago, Linda and Larry Keefe were walking their dogs in downtown Sarasota when a drunk driver lost control of her vehicle. Linda Keefe remembers her husband shouting for her to get out of the way, as the car’s tires came squealing around the corner at 45 miles per hour. She watched as the driver headed straight for him. At the last second, the car swerved.

“The driver came to the other side of the road and hit my dog, Hank, and me,” Linda Keefe said. “I believe Hank saved my life. I pulled him into me to protect him, and instead of getting hit head on, my injuries were only on the right side. When Larry came across the street and found us, I can just imagine his state. He’s out there yelling ‘help!’ and Hank is right there crying next to me.”

Following the accident, Linda Keefe was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center, in St. Petersburg, where she spent one week. She underwent multiple surgeries over the next couple of months. She suffered broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a misaligned jaw that made it difficult to chew food.

“I took care of her (at Sarasota Memorial Hospital) right after her accident,” said Tonya Herschberger, a pre-op nurse at SMH. “She told me everything she had gone through — it was a pretty traumatic story.”

Recently, both women were asked to appear in a photo shoot for local dentist Christine Koval, whom they had both contacted to enhance their smiles.

“I went over to Linda and said, ‘I’m the nurse who took care of you,’” Herschberger said. “She started tearing up and crying. And, of course, the woman doing her makeup is telling her not to cry. Neither of us recognized each other, but we both remembered each other. I’m so happy everything went well and she’s fully recovered. Most times, you don’t get the opportunity as a nurse to see your patients.”


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