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Two months after crash killed her unborn child, Santa Rosa woman yearns for normal

It’s not like Lizzy Ehrmann-Subia to be late.

She was overdue about 45 minutes the afternoon of Monday, May 22, when her mother, Pat Ehrmann of Sebastopol, decided to check on her with a phone call.

Every Monday, Pat and her husband, Steve Ehrmann, care for their nearly 2-year-old granddaughter, Amelia, until her mom leaves her job as a social worker in Santa Rosa and comes to fetch her.

Pat Ehrmann dialed Lizzy’s cellphone number and a woman whose voice she didn’t recognize answered. The woman identified herself as CHP officer Kimberly Lemon.

Recalled Lizzy’s mom, “She said, ‘There’s been an accident.’ She didn’t tell me the full extent.”

The full extent was nearly unspeakable.

Lizzy, who’s 34, had been driving toward Sebastopol on two-lane Highway 12?when, not far beyond Fulton Road, her Toyota Camry collided head-on with a?Toyota Scion.

She and the two occupants of the Scion were loaded into ambulances. At Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, a trauma team discovered that among Lizzy’s many injuries were extensive fractures to her pelvis and an ankle, and a ruptured bladder.

Far worse, the impact killed the fetus of a girl she’d carried for a bit more than five months.

When her husband, Matt Subia, arrived at Memorial, he was allowed to hold the body of his unborn daughter.

Two months have passed and Lizzy has undergone six surgeries.

A down-to-earth, funny and kind-hearted Sonoma County mental-health assessment clinician, she stays at her parents’ house after spending three weeks at Memorial Hospital and almost two weeks at Park View Post Acute.

She has endured enormous sorrow, pain and fear, but says none of that was the worst part of being laid up away from home. It was being away, except for bedside visits, from Amelia.

“That was absolutely the hardest part of the whole thing, hands down,” Lizzy said while seated in her wheelchair in the living room of her folks’ country home south of Sebastopol.

Her first thought upon coming to in the hospital and learning what had happened was: Thank God her Amelia was not in the car at the time.

“I can’t wait to get on the floor and play with her,” she said. For the moment Lizzy remains reliant on a wheelchair and is mightily challenged to move onto or off a bed, and in or out of a car.

But she’s spending much more time with Amelia and Matt, a Sonoma County environmental health specialist, and getting closer to being able to wrest herself from her parents’ care and return to her own Rincon Valley home.

Lizzy celebrated a great victory just days ago: Orthopedic surgeon Fred Bennett removed the clunky, external fixator that helped hold her pelvic bones in place while they healed. She’ll just have to live with some of the internal hardware doctors installed onto fractured bones.

“Between my ankle and my hips,” she mused, “I could open a Home Depot.”

She can’t wait to get out of the wheelchair and onto crutches. Then, she said, smiling, “I can start hobbling around. I can take a shower!”

She expects it will be about mid-August when she’s able to begin relearning how to walk. “Once I can walk,” she said, “I can go home.”

Lizzy loves her job, which involves assessing Sonoma County residents possibly in need of mental health services, and she’s eager to get back to work.

And there are nurses and other staffers at Memorial Hospital she’d like to thank for what she says was astounding care.

She spoke with an attorney about possibly seeking damages from 41-year-old Tristan Taliesin of Santa Rosa, the driver suspected of being under the influence of methamphetamine and causing the collision by crossing the center lines.

Taliesin was arrested by CHP officers on suspicion of felony driving under the influence, but he has not been charged. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office has requested additional information from the CHP.

Both Taliesin and his passenger, Ashley Kontos, 27, of Petaluma were seriously injured in the crash. A dog riding in the back of the car driven by Taliesin was killed.

As Lizzy prepares to get back onto her feet and then return to her home and her job, she believes she and Matt will eventually be able to attempt to have another child.

The couple anticipates they’ll hold a memorial service for the daughter they lost to the crash.

Lizzy is aware that the consequences of what happened on May 22 could have been much worse. “There’s plenty to be thankful for in all this,” she said.

Still, she admits, “I’m missing normal.”

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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