Family of girl severely injured in suspected drunk driving crash raising money for service dog

DAYTON — In a split second, a Dayton family said a suspected drunk driver changed their lives forever.

Dylan and Kristen White were on their way home from picking their kids up after celebrating their wedding anniversary when their minivan was hit by a suspected drunk driver on I-675. The crash killed their 4-week-old daughter, Faye, and severely injured their daughter, Emma.

“That’s a struggle every day and it’s a daily reminder of what we lost,” Kristen White said.

>> PHOTOS: Local girl recovering from severe injures sustained in crash that killed 4-week-old sister

Emma was partially internally decapitated and went into cardiac arrest, among other severe injuries. Her mother said she beat the odds and survived.

Nearly two years later, Emma, now 11, is continuing her recovery.

“I feel like I’m pretty close to how I used to be,” Emma told News Center 7 on Thursday.

Her mother said she couldn’t be more proud of how her daughter has overcome everything she’s been through.

While she said there are certain things she wishes she could still do, like play sports, Emma is back in school surrounded by great friends.

“They have been super helpful,” Emma said. ‘They watch my walking, make sure I don’t stumble.”

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Emma goes to physical therapy every week, but still needs help. The family has learned that she has qualified in the 4 Paws for Ability program to receive a service dog to help her daily.

“I love dogs and having it here would be the best,” Emma said.

Kristen said Emma is a fall risk due to her spinal cord injury and a service dog could help her get back up. The dog could even speak for Emma, who’s vocal cords were damaged in the crash.

“If something does happen, the dog could communicate that for her which would be amazing,” Kristen explained.

Additionally, the dog could help with her mental health. Her mother explained that she suffers from anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder from the crash.

Jennifer Lutes, executive director at 4 Paws for Ability, told News Center 7 that they were excited to work with Emma.

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“We’re so excited to work with Emma and her family and place a service dog, and really give her the life of independence and support that she truly needs and deserves,” Lutes said.

Service dogs can cost $40,000-$60,000 and the White’s are working to raise $20,000 to get Emma’s service dog.

“We’ve raised about $6,500 now, so we need about a little over $13,000,” Kristen said.

More information on Emma’s story and ways to help can be found here.