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10-year-old Prineville girl ‘keeping spirits high’ but may never walk again after serious semi crash

(Update: Adding video, comments from family friend of Prineville girl)

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Prineville 10-year-old Prineville Ginni Smith continues her recovery from a violent semi-truck crash on Highway 20 near Sweet Home last Friday.

Michelle Holliday is Ginni’s director at Summer Blast, a Crook County School District summer camp. She’s also a close family friend.

“Kind-hearted, sweet and loves being out here,” Holliday said Thursday of Ginni. “Every day, she sees me and comes and gives me a hug and makes sure she just says 'Hi' to everybody. She does have a very positive energy about her.”

On July 15th, Ginni was riding in the sleeper cab of a semi truck, driven by a relative, traveling to Sweet Home.

During the ride on Highway 20, the truck veered off the road, rolling 20 feet down an embankment toward the Santiam River, sending Ginni and the driver, who were both unbuckled, out of the cab.

“Jenny was in a bush, crying, and it was pretty apparent that she was pretty injured,” Holliday said. 

Another driver called 911, and Ginni was airlifted to a Portland hospital with a broken back in four places.

She's now recovering at the pediatric intensive care unit at OHSU, but has no feeling below her hips.

“Well, one of the biggest (concerns) is the ability to walk again,” Holliday said. 

The driver was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, reckless endangering, assault and animal abuse.

Ginni's puppy was in the truck and died in the crash. 

“The last thing that you ever want to think about is your child being in an accident like this,” Holliday said. 

Ginni's stepfather is home in Prineville with their 2-year-old son, while mom is at the hospital with Ginni. 

“Financially, they can’t afford for both of them to be there, so they’re trying to balance that as best they can to be there for her,” Holliday said. 

Holliday set up a Facebook fundraiser for Ginni, and her mom said the financial and verbal support they’ve gotten already are helping Ginni fight on.

“All the prayers and love and things people have been posting to the Facebook page, she shares with Ginni. And she believes that that has helped her with some of this recovery and taking those baby steps,” Holliday said. “As well as keeping her spirits high, wanting to keep trying harder and wanting to not get so down on those setbacks that she does have.”

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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