According to Greensboro's News and Records, On April 10th 2013, LaTerria Whitener, 21, and late fiance Kristopher Blue, 27, were in a fatal car crash involving a tractor trailer around midnight. Mr. Blue was pronounced dead at the scene. Ms. Whitener suffered from life threatening injuries.
Ms. Whitener decided to share her story with us on how she overcame this life changing experience.
What has life taught you after your severe accident back in 2013?
The accident taught me to LIVE! Being a black girl in the urban community, I was always concerned with what people thought of me and I wanted to be my version of picture perfect and I think that through all the “keeping it together” I forgot to LIVE! I was simply existing, and being the person who everyone thought I should be. Once I began recovery I decided that I will never decide against living my truth again! What everyone else thought didn't matter anymore, because in those times of loss and and grief, it was just me and God, and he showed me that despite all of the things that were going on, it was ok for me to LIVE. So there was grief, hurt, pain, sadness, and anger, but when I chose to live I was able to accept all those emotions and LIVE! Not only am I living, my life is refined, and filled with purpose.
I also learned to never take things for granted and accept things as they are. Before the incident I always though things like “oh, I don't have to worry about that, that type of stuff can't happen to me.” I thought that things would always be as they were, so I didn't plan for the unexpected changes. I was going to get married, have kids, buy a house, and become a lawyer and I just knew nothing would change or alter my plans. And if things were to get off track I believed (in my mind) I had the power and control to return things to the status quo (that’s pretty insane now that I’m actually speaking my thoughts, but it’s how I felt). I didn’t understand that my very existence was a chance and mercy that God gave me everyday. I was so accustomed to things being the way I wanted them to be, when I wanted them to be, and that made it hard for me to accept the harsh realities of my situation. The truth is, my heart was broken, and I couldn’t fix it this time. My life was different and I couldn't change it back. Had it not been for my tragic experience, I don't think I would have learned that life is amazing and beautiful, even when it doesn't go according to my plans.
What were the mental and physical effects of the accident?
Mentally, I was defeated. I remember waking up and asking God. “why am I still alive?” I could not wrap my head around all the things that happened to me, in so little time. There was a new test every day, and I was failing. I wasn’t accustomed to all the constant change, so for a while I was waiting to die. I wasn’t prepared to start again because I was afraid. I was ok with taking the easy way out, and at that moment,the easy way was death. Physically, there were so many things wrong. Last I checked, there were over 26 injuries, including but not limited to, brain lacerations, a few broken ribs and a punctured bladder and kidney, and brain hemorrhage. I can recall one specific day so vividly. The doctor walked in and said “we’re going to give you a cognitive test.” This was a few days before graduation and I had to pass the test to be released from the hospital. He asked me a very long math equation and when I failed to answer he told me “you won't be able to think the same so maybe you should delay law school.” I was tore down mentally and physically and making it through was something I thought I never could do.
What was your motivation to begin living again after losing your late finance and being unable to walk for a while?
I think my biggest motivation was my siblings and my younger cousins. They were looking at me and even though I felt my worse, I was always the best in their eyes. They still looked up to “little ole me”. Another thing that pushed me was my social media following. When I finally began taking calls and looking on the internet I saw so many people post “Pray for LaTerria” Some people who posted in respect of my struggle had never met me. I also remember seeing, “LaTerria spells I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N.” I was inspiring, and people were rooting my me (I definitely wasn't expecting that)! At that moment I began to dig myself out of the slump because I knew that I had a story to tell.
What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to Law School?
I found out I was accepted to law school a few months before the accident and I was ecstatic. My current fiance and I went looking for houses and making plans. It was like a dream come true. Everything was lining up and it was so unreal to me, but most of all I was happy.
How did you manage to travel during Law School?
Law school was a BEAST but I saved up my refund check (yes, I took out loans but i had to do what I had to do), I had a work study job, and I made it work. I wanted to have every experience that I could, and I wasn’t going to let money deter me. I felt like I just skipped death, and I wanted to see new things, so I did it. While in law school, I visited Jamaica, South Africa, Bahamas, and a few places in the US. I saved every dollar and made it happen.
What was your reaction when you passed the BAR ?
The BAR exam was like something i never experienced before. I didn't pass on my first try and I was totally devastated. After I got over myself, I put the work in, and I passed (yaaay. To this day, I haven't cried, but I am excited, blessed, and honored that God bestowed this gift upon me. I think, I’m still in shock, BUT I AM SO READY TO LITIGATE ALL UP AND THROUGH FLORIDA!
Now that you’ve accomplished your goal of becoming a Lawyer, what’s next for you?
What’s next for me… there’s a lot going on and I’m excited about it all! I'm newly engaged to an amazing man that has opened his heart to me and all of my baggage. To this very day, he is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. So, a wedding is soon to come! I'm hoping to start some charitable activities and businesses in the near future. And the one everyone has been waiting on, I’m also writing a book! It’s all coming together slowly. Other than that, I am working on continuing to be the person God has designed me to be.