The Prospect community has come together to help a student who is "making progress" in the intensive care unit of a Medford hospital after her car rolled over in an accident on the Butte Falls/Prospect Highway on June 5.
Kaylee Biando, 16, described as an "All-American-type student" by her basketball coach, has multiple athletic and academic achievements to her name. A junior at Prospect Charter School, she's been a member of the track, basketball, cheerleading and volleyball teams, has a high grade-point average, and was elected as student body president.
"She got a trophy in basketball for outstanding defense; she had 17 ribbons and medals that she obtained during track competitions," said Ray Williams, Prospect Charter School athletic director and basketball coach. "She is an All-American-type student; she had received awards at the academic awards ceremony in several of her classes."
"She's just one of those kids that everybody loves and that works really hard," said Tracy VanWormer, track and cheerleading coach for Prospect Charter School.
Biando was on her way from her home in Butte Falls to her brother's eighth-grade graduation in Prospect when their vehicle rolled over about a mile from Butte Falls with Kaylee and her younger brother, Brawley, inside. The cause of the accident is not yet known. Kaylee sustained severe head injuries that required emergency surgery; her brother had only minor cuts and scrapes and was released from the hospital that evening.
After the accident, Brawley found Kaylee's phone and called their parents. While he was on the phone, two Marines came on the scene and called emergency services, staying with the Biandos until help arrived.
Kaylee was air-flighted from a ranch near the crash to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Hospital in Medford. The Marines followed them, but left shortly after reaching the hospital. Williams said that nobody knows who the Marines were or how to thank them.
"It's something you don't expect on that little highway," said Williams. "You can drive for quite a few miles and not see anybody."
Biando was still in intensive care Friday. After reaching the hospital she underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure from swelling on her brain and to remove a blood clot. She also has a broken wrist.
According to Williams, who has been in touch with Biando's parents, Kaylee was able to wave to her father and briefly talk to her parents on Friday. She has also regained movement in the right side of her body, which she had initially lost.
"She is making progress," said Williams.
News about the accident spread quickly when the pair were absent from Brawley's graduation. Throughout the night, students, teachers, staff members and community members came by the hospital to check in on Kaylee. Some students stayed the night in Medford hotels in order to be close to the hospital the next morning.
"The kids were just trying to share their support with each other and with the family," said VanWormer.
According to Williams, Biando's family does not have insurance beyond what is required for athletes to have through the Oregon School Activities Association, so their coverage will be minimal.
To help with Biando's medical expenses, the school hold a "Walk for Kaylee" fundraiser hosted by the Prospect Charter School cheerleaders.
The event will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 22, and supporters will walk through Prospect from the Cascade Gorge Store on Mill Creek Drive to Prospect Charter School along Mill Creek Road. There will be a barbecue at the school after the walk where attendees will be able to donate toward Biando's medical expenses.
There will also be a car wash held by some of Kaylee's classmates today at the Shady Cove Fire Department.
VanWormer said that many in the area know Kaylee's parents, Kenn and Lori Biando, and want to help the family because they are "high energy" people and are supportive of others in the community.
Individuals from the school have set up a donation account for the family at Chase Bank in Shady Cove, and VanWormer is working to open an account at Bank of the Cascades. More fundraisers will be held throughout the summer to help cover the medical expenses.
"She's kind of been like a daughter to me," said VanWormer.
"In watching how the community pulls together up there... it's like a family, it really is," said Williams. "Everybody knows everybody and everybody pulls together, especially when you have an incident where one of them is in danger or hurt or needs anybody."
Shannon Houston is a Southern Oregon University intern.