Crash survivor speaks out

By Denise Jackson

September 11, 2013 Updated Sep 11, 2013 at 7:57 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A woman injured in a crash involving a drunk driver this spring returned to work for the first time Wednesday.

Tammy Hall-Mathews works at the Tri-County Animal Emergency Clinic in Peoria.

Hall-Mathews said she was driving to work the night of March 18 just before the head on crash at the intersection of Gilbert and Sterling.

Authorities said Dr. Barbara Penelton, whose blood alcohol level was .352, was driving the wrong way down the road. She died later at the hospital.

Hall-Mathews said she suffered a crushed ankle, was hospitalized twice and had three surgeries on her left leg. She plans to sue Penelton's estate for damages due to ongoing medical costs.

"You know at first you're mad because your life is gonna change and it's gonna change drastically and then you're mad it happened to you and it's then why me, and then okay, now I've got it, now I've got to figure out how to get through it," she said.

"If we're dealing with a case with $300,000 in medical bills, a permanent injury, more therapy for perhaps another year, more doctor's care for another year this would be a million or two million dollar claim if there were sufficient insurance," said Hall-Matthews' attorney Drew Parker.

Hall-Mathews walks with a limp and it takes longer to get from one point to another. She began driving again in May and is currently in physical therapy.

The Peoria County Coroner said Barbara Penelton, a retired Bradley University professor, died from multiple traumatic injuries and that alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash.