"Miss Linda" recovers from traffic accident | RecordCourier.com
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"Miss Linda" recovers from traffic accident

by Merrie Leininger

The woman many children call “Miss Linda” is recovering from a serious car accident, and those who have known her for years say she won’t ask for it, but she needs your help.

Linda Naucke, 52, who has worked at Sunshine and Rainbows day care center for almost 20 years, is known to her students and their parents only by Miss Linda.

On May 9, she was driving home from Sacramento at about 3 p.m. from a Mother’s Day visit with her daughter, Brittany, 27, when her car went off the road.

“I felt a little tired, and I thought I would pull over in Strawberry and get a soda. The next thing, I felt the car go into the dirt, and I felt it go airborne, and I just held on to the steering wheel. I prayed, ‘Sweet Jesus, land me as safely and softly as you can,” Naucke said.

She doesn’t remember landing, or much following the accident, but she said she knows how lucky she is.

“I wasn’t blacked out. I remember trying to get out, yelling, ‘Can anybody help me?’ The seatbelt and the airbag saved me. The Isuzu has a high headrest and it helped me from getting whiplash. I heard a man’s voice and tried to open the door, but couldn’t pry the door open. At the time, I had no idea the only pine tree around had stopped my car from going further down the canyon into the river and it almost killed me. It was 6 inches from my face.”

Many passers-by, including a nurse and a tow-truck driver, stayed with her until the paramedics arrived. Once they did, the truck had to be secured so it wouldn’t fall further down the canyon.

All during that time, she didn’t understand the extent of her injuries and kept telling her rescuers if they could get her out of the truck, she would call her husband to pick her up.

“They were very kind to me. and just talked to me and told me I was helping them. When they went to get me out, it was very difficult and I was anxious because I knew it was going to hurt,” Naucke said.

She was pinned to the dashboard and her whole right side was crushed. She spent the next week at Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe and underwent surgery twice to replace bones in her ankle and hip with metal. She also has broken ribs and had to get stitches in her hand.

Naucke said she is very thankful to the paramedics, doctors and nurses who took care of he.

– Angels everywhere. “I had angels everywhere taking care of me. Barton was awesome to me. I cannot walk for three months, but I’m able to live with that – I’m alive. I can do things I didn’t think I’d be able to do,” Naucke said.

Nurses at Barton teased her and called her “Miss Popularity,” and said she got more flowers than anyone had. She left many of them there for other patients when she left last Sunday.

– Raising money. Her family has rallied around her since the accident. Her daughter is staying indefinitely and her son, Brandon, 25, who is in the Army, flew in with his 1-month old daughter and wife from Colorado.

Her coworkers at Sunshine and Rainbows and her friends at High Sierra Fellowship are trying to raise funds for her to help pay for the hospital bills. The Nauckes had just cancelled their health insurance and were looking for another when the accident happened. They only had $1,000 medical insurance on the truck.

Her husband of 28 years, Tom, is self-employed and makes cabinets for his company, Willow Bend Woodworks.

“I know how blessed I am,” Naucke said. “It is very hard for me to receive rather be on the giving end. It is kind of a hard lesson for me to receive,” she said.

n Big sale. Nina Grobben, owner of Sunshine and Rainbows, said the school will be holding a combination bake sale and yard sale at the day care June 11-13.

Donations of yard sale items and bake sale items will be accepted. A trust account has also been set up at Norwest Bank for those who prefer to donate money. That account number is 194820239.

Grobben said even if Naucke isn’t ready to be on the receiving end, she deserves it after her years of giving.

“There are many people here who love her. In all her years in the Valley, she’s the first one in line to give,” she said.

For more information, call Grobben at Sunshine and Rainbows at 265-2185.