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North Texas coach who survives two head-on collisions gets flooded with hearts from young rock climbers

<i></i><br/>North Texas coach Kim
Lawrence, Nakia

North Texas coach Kim

By Marvin Hurst

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    FRISCO, Texas (KTVT) — Kimberly “Coach Kim” Puccio travels the same route to Canyons Rock Climbing weekly. She was headed home from the Frisco-based gym on February 1st but did not make it.

Casey Puccio-Gehring, her daughter, said she knew the news wasn’t good when her phone rang. Her mother’s boyfriend called because it was long past the time Coach Kim would have been home.

“Practice gets over at 9:00 at night, and it’s about an hour and 20 minute drive for her,” Puccio-Gehring said. “And so she isn’t one to make stops that late at night.”

When they decided to retrace her route, a call came in from the hospital. Coach Kim had been in an accident. Puccio-Gehring said the hospital downplayed the severity of her mother’s injuries.

The mother of four said when she walked into the hospital room, her vibrant and independent mother was unrecognizable.

“She’s not sitting up. She’s not talking,” Puccio-Gerving said.

Her mother, who worked multiple shifts as a waitress to support two daughters and a son, lay in bed, the victim of two head-on collisions.

Puccio-Gehring said her cuts across her head, blurred vision from a bloody retina, and a punctured lung.

“She has four broken ribs and she’s got a broken left wrist, a broken right hand, her forearm on her right side, literally broken down both those and came out of the arm,” she said.

Coach Kim’s injury list goes on. Texas DPS Sgt Tony De La Cerda said her physical afflictions came from a series of crashes in Grayson County.

De La Cerda said Brandi Branson’s Dodge pickup truck was headed south on Highway 289 near Morman Grove. He stated the 39-year-old drifted onto the northbound side. According to DPS, the impact was so intense Puccio’s vehicle went on the other side of the road. A passerby tried to rescue Coach Kim from the car unsuccessfully. Another driver hit her head-on.

Branson got arrested on charges of DWI and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She’s out of jail on bonds totaling more than $16,000.

“She’s a tough woman,” Liz Sal said.

Sal is the treasurer of the Canyons Rock Climbing Booster Club. Her daughter Lilly is under Coach Kim’s guidance.

“Casey, her daughter. She’s put together a GoFundMe,” she said. “When we found out about the news, we are instantly looking for ways to get money together from other team parents.”

Money was not the only thing the climbing community was trying to raise. Young climbers made posters with well-wishes for the respected and convalescing coach.

Puccio-Gehring said her mother was out of bed and slowly walking around. But her road to recovery will be a steep climb.

Coach Kim’s oldest daughter is world champion climber Alex Puccio, who is also by her mother’s side.

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