Girl Still Recovering After January School Bus Crash

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

It was January 24th when Joli Collett says her life changed forever.

"This is every parent's nightmare, come to visit my family."

She had gotten a call from her 16-year-old daughter, Haille, to come to Willow Ridge Elementary in Grand Ledge.

When Collett got there, she realized Haille, who was driving her car and her other daughter, 13-year-old Brielle, had been in an accident with a school bus. Both were already on their way to the hospital.

Mike Franco and Lieutenant Colonel John Wojcik, however, saw the whole thing happen. While many people were tending to the bus, they quickly ran to the car.

"The driver's side looked fine and so I went to the passenger side of the vehicle," said Wojcik. "It was essentially folded in half. It looked like a giant had squished it."

"I thought I was watching two people who were pretty seriously hurt," said Franco.

Together, they got Haille out of the car, but Brielle was pinned inside. After seeing her seat belt was restricting her breathing, they cut it off and waited for an ambulance.

At Sparrow Hospital, both were treated for their injuries. Haille was in the hospital for several days with a concussion and spleen laceration. She is now out and back to school. However, Brielle needed an emergency, six-hour surgery.

"She's had multiple fractures and internal injuries," said Collett. "She's made it through all of the procedures, so far."

Brielle is still in the hospital and currently in a coma. Her condition is stable, but critical.

"Getting her off the ventilator is the first step, waking her up is the next step," said Collett.

Both of Brielle's parents have been by her side every day since the accident. Haille, who has been greatly affected by the accident, has been extremely helpful.

Brielle's status remains day-to-day, but Collett says little things, like squeezing her hands and moving her feet have given the family hope.

"I so want her to open her eyes and recognize me again," said Collett.

Joli Collett says she intends to thank Wojcik, Franco and anyone else involved in the rescue of her daughters, personally.

A fund has been set up at the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union in Brielle's name. The Collett Family Fund will help cover medical costs. Anyone wishing to help can do so by going to MSUFCU and donating to the fund. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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