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Woman Fights For Friend's Healthcare Following Fatal Route 17 Crash

Kate Fruscella of Waldwick, N.J., left, is fighting for friend Michelle Rodriguez of Congers, who is recovering following a Route 17 accident that killed her boyfriend. Photo Credit: Contributed
Fruscella, left, says Rodriguez should be receiving the care she deserves after suffering two collapsed lungs, a broken pelvis and more. Photo Credit: Contributed

The last thing Michelle Rodriguez remembers before waking up days later in a hospital bed was flying out of her boyfriend's truck on Route 17 in Chester.

The first thing she remembers is asking for him.

But 27-year-old Steve Dauksza died moments after landing only 100 feet from his girlfriend, after his truck hit another car on the highway, sending him and Rodriguez off the highway, flipping down into an embankment and killing him on impact.

The nightmare only continued to worsen for Rodriguez, a Congers native like her late boyfriend, who was comatose until April 3 with two collapsed lungs, a broken pelvis, puncture wounds in her bladder (which was leaking into her body) and more.

She lost the insurance for the dream job she was set to start as an ultrasound technician the following day, leaving her with only some money in liability from Dauksza's truck.

As soon as the money she had ran out, she was kicked out of the hospital, forced to recover in her parents' basement with thousands of dollars in medical bills -- all while grieving for Dauksza.

"It's a miracle that she lived," said Kate Fruscella of Waldwick, N.J., who became best friends with Rodriguez in college.

"But she will probably never be the same."

Fruscella has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her dear friend, which has raised more than $1,500 since Friday morning . She doesn't feel it's fair that her friend didn't receive the care she deserves in the hospital.

"As soon as the hospital realized the liability money ran out, they kicked her out," Fruscella said, noting the family was far from thrilled with hospital administration.

"One doctor in the ICU told her in such an abrasive way that her boyfriend was gone -- and that was when she woke up after being out for a few days," Fruscella said.

"He had no compassion nor respect for the family for that matter."

Fruscella said the experience at ORMC was overall a "horrible" one. But watching her friend get stronger on her own has been miraculous, she said.

"It’s the emotional aspect and losing Steve that’s going to take its toll on Michelle," Fruscella said.

"Bruises heal, the other stuff doesn’t."


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