Former WSU student is ‘miracle’ after surviving car accident

Despite trauma, she continues to live life worth living; eager to recover by doing therapies twice weekly, doing online class

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COURTESY OF ALLECIA GALINDO

“She wasn’t supposed to live,” said Allecia Galindo, “so I just think she’s honestly a miracle.”

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen news editor

A 4 a.m. phone call on April 17, 2020, left Buffy Trowse screaming. She frantically woke her family for a 40-minute drive to Bellingham, and waited eight hours in a hospital parking lot, unsure if her daughter would live.

That date is a day to be remembered for Buffy and her family. It was the day her daughter and former WSU student, Yashleen Singh, survived a traumatic car accident. Buffy said their lives changed after that accident.

Yashleen, 20, attended WSU prior to her car accident last April. (COURTESY OF ALLECIA GALINDO)

Buffy said she remembers the fire department notifying her of Yashleen’s condition. The voice on the other end of the line told her Yashleen was in critical condition.

“I was just screaming, confused and very scared,” she said.

Allecia Galindo, Yashleen’s sister, thought there was a fire in the house when she heard her mom screaming. She said it was hard for her to believe her sister got into a car accident.

“I just remember feeling like I was gonna have like a heart attack, like there’s just like a big weight on my chest,” she said.

Upon arriving at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, hospital staff notified Buffy and her family that Yashleen was undergoing surgery. Buffy said staff named Yashleen “Tamales Tamales” because she did not have an ID with her when the accident happened.

Buffy — along with her husband, Daryn Trowse, and Allecia — could not enter the hospital because of COVID-19 restrictions. She said Yashleen’s surgery took about eight hours.

“We were just crying and praying a lot because we didn’t know the exact injuries at that time,” she said.

After the surgery, the doctor told Buffy and her family that Yashleen had a severed main artery in her head. Buffy said Yashleen also had two fractures on her skull and lost about nine pints of blood.

“He also told us that he ran several red lights to get to the hospital in time because she had less than an hour to survive,” Buffy said.

Allecia said Buffy was the only one who got to see Yashleen for a few minutes after the surgery. Three days after the surgery, Allecia and other family members were permitted to visit Yashleen because doctors thought she was dying.

Liz Wilson, Yashleen’s best friend, visited Yashleen in Colorado where was undergoing three therapies a day for four days. (COURTESY OF LIZ WILSON)

Entering her sister’s hospital room, Allecia saw Yashleen’s head wrapped. Tubes were coming out of her mouth and another tube coming out of her head. Her body was swollen. Allecia said she could barely recognize the figure resting in that room. 

“I walked in and I said ‘Yashy, it’s sissy’ … and her body kind of twitched,” she said. “I’ll never forget that.”

Yashleen, 20, survived the car accident. But after five months of hospitalization, she is now living a completely different life.

Buffy said Yashleen had to “start from scratch” and relearn almost everything — from walking and talking to swallowing and using the bathroom.

Yashleen had to undergo eye surgery at the University of Washington. Liz Wilson, Yashleen’s best friend since middle school, spent a night at Yashleen’s room and felt terrified. She said she cried a lot because her best friend was in pain. 

“She recognized me,” Liz said. “I was like, “Who’s your best friend?’ She pointed at me.”

Last June, Yashleen was taken to Craig Hospital in Colorado where she did three therapies a day for four days, Buffy said.

Buffy works as a full-time caregiver for her daughter. She said she helps Yashleen do physical, occupational and speech therapies twice a week. 

“We had to really be strong for each other,” Buffy said. “Our end goal was to give her some sort of life.”

Some days are harder than others. Yashleen’s accident brought a lot of emotional toll on Buffy and her family. Buffy said she sometimes has nightmares of the tragedy that occurred last year.

Allecia helped her mom care for her sister. When Yashleen was in Colorado, Allecia said she would fly once a week to see her sister. She also had to balance her job and schoolwork.

Community members cheered for Yashleen during her coming home parade on Sept. 17, 2020. (COURTESY OF ALLECIA GALINDO)

It has been about eleven months since the accident. Even though Yashleen knows she will never be the same person she was before the accident, she is determined to work hard every day to get better, Buffy said.

“Even though she’s been hurt and she’s not the same as she used to be, she’s proud of herself every day,” she said. “She doesn’t complain a lick. She smiles, she laughs. Her personality is amazing.”

Liz said Yashleen’s humor and positivity have always been traits she admired about her. Yashleen could walk into a room and attract people to her because of her personality, Liz said.

Yashleen’s road to recovery has brought her community in Lynden together, Buffy said. A friend of Buffy’s organized a meal train, which included a cash donation page that raised over $10,000 for Yashleen. Another individual started a #YashyStrong t-shirt, raising over $4,000.

Prior to college, Yashleen worked at a Papa Murphy’s in Lynden. The restaurant staff hosted a three-day pizza event for #YashyStrong. The event raised more than $6,000, Buffy said.

Yashleen’s sorority at WSU also sent her a t-shirt and treats, she said.

Yashleen is taking an online college success class through Whatcom Community College. (COURTESY OF BUFFY TROWSE)

On March 20, Yashleen’s high school volleyball team will have a game dedicated to her. She said attendees will be wearing #YashyStrong t-shirts.

“People love her so much,” she said. “She inspires people.”

This past year taught Buffy to never take life for granted. A person’s life can change in the blink of an eye. Buffy said it is important to love each other, especially one’s family, and express appreciation to those around us.

Nowadays, Yashleen keeps herself busy by taking an online class through Whatcom Community College. Buffy said Yashleen has been taking a college success class since early January.

“She wasn’t supposed to live,” Allecia said, “so I just think she’s honestly a miracle.”

Individuals can follow Yashleen’s road to recovery on the #YashyStrong Facebook page.