Johnson Lane family seeks help after tragic accident |

Johnson Lane family seeks help after tragic accident

by Merrie Leininger

A Johnson Lane family is hoping for some help from their community in their time of need.

Davey Dittberner and his three children will be struggling to make it on their own for the next couple of months while their mother, Jana Dittberner, recovers from a car accident two weeks ago that broke her neck and her back.

Jana will probably be paralyzed for the rest of her life, and her daughter Jessie, 7, will need much help as she also recovers from a fracture in her vertebrae, said her brother-in-law Dan Dittberner.

The accident took place about 2 p.m. March 28 on Highway 44 eastbound towards Susanville, Calif. when Jana, 26, was driving Jessie home from a week-long visit with her grandmother in Oregon.

Two-month-old Jayme was also in the car when Jana, according to the highway patrol report, took her eyes off the road as she turned around to talk to Jessie in the back seat. The vehicle drifted, Jana overcompensated, and the car rolled down a ravine.

Firefighters, who just happened to be passing on the way back from another accident, saw the car and immediately began trying to get the family out.

However, because of the extent of the damage, all three were trapped in the car until the roof could be cut off.

Davey and 6-year-old Joseph were at Davey’s brother’s home in Reno. Dan Dittberner said they were doing Davey’s tax returns when the Susanville hospital called them with the news Jana was seriously injured and she was being flown to Washoe Medical Center.

“Jessie went to hospital there (in Susanville) and they called us from the hospital,” Dan said. “He and I went to Susanville, and by time we got there they had discovered Jessie had a broken back so they had to bring her down here as well.”

A helicopter was not available, so Jana was taken to an airport in Susanville and flown by plane to Reno, then taken by ambulance to Washoe Medical Center and Jessie was taken to Reno by ambulance, stacking up considerable bills in the process.

His brother said Davey has been in the hospital around-the-clock since the accident and has been at home with Jessie since she came home from the hospital Sunday.

“She has a compression fracture and it’s the type that heals and won’t cause any complications,” Dan said.

However, Jana has a broken neck, causing paralysis from that point down. She also has a broken shoulder, collarbone, back and hip.

“They said she will be in the hospital for two months, probably, but they’re not positive. It depends on the physical therapy. They did surgery on her neck and fused her spine and her neck. They haven’t done any other back surgery yet, they wanted to wait until she gets stronger,” Dan said.

Meanwhile, Jayme had to abruptly be put on formula milk because Jana couldn’t nurse her anymore. Davey’s sister, who also lives in Reno, is taking care of the baby now.

Even though his family lives in the area, Davey is going to need a lot of help in the months coming up. He is a house painter, but will not be able to work for at least a few months.

“He’s spent the whole time in the hospital with them. He’s not going to be able to work for quite a while,” Dan said.

Jana was a certified home healthcare professional who worked in the residence of a Gardnerville man who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.

“It’s been hard for her to get used to the idea of being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life, even through she knows exactly what’s involved,” Dan said.

Davey, 37, was born in Truckee and his family have lived in this area most of his life, but Jana’s family lives in Medford, Ore., and cannot help out. The Dittberners, who have been married about nine years, moved to their home on Stephanie Way a year ago.

The vehicle involved in the accident was the only one the family had. However, Dan said the car dealership were they bought that car has promised to try and help them get a handicapped-accessible van.

“The community down there has really been supportive,” Dan said. “It is super nice of them to help out in anyway.”

Anyone who wants to donate money can give to Jana Dittberner’s Trust Fund at Norwest Bank. The account number is 6262907642.