Five weeks have passed since 5-year-old Ashley Dubey of Centreville was struck by a car as she tried to cross Old Centreville Road. And although labeled in "fair" condition at Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children, she's still in a semi-coma.
"Her health is like a roller coaster," said her mother, Seema Dubey of Crofton Commons. "One minute she's doing better and, the next minute, she's not."
A kindergartner at Bull Run Elementary, Ashley sustained a severe head injury. She'd been holding her mother's hand, waiting for her school bus, when she saw some friends across the street and darted out to join them.
That's when Duane Thompson, 38, of Manassas, struck her with his 1997 Chrysler. The impact flung her some 50 feet in the air, but Thompson allegedly kept driving. Fairfax County police arrested him shortly afterward, charging him with felony hit-and-run.
Meanwhile, Ashley's been battling — first, for survival, and now for full consciousness. "The doctors have been draining fluid from her brain for almost 2 1/2 weeks," said Dubey. They've now put in a permanent shunt, reduced some of her medication and moved her from the critical-care unit.
Understandably, the ordeal has been terribly hard on the child's family, and her mother has spent most of her time at her daughter's bedside. So far, Ashley's only been able to move her left arm.
"I'm just praying to God that she can move soon and can talk to me," said Dubey. "Sometimes she opens her eyes [for awhile] and I talk to her. She knows I'm there. Sometimes, I see a little tear under her eye, and I say, 'Honey, I'm here and I love you and I miss you.'"
Dubey has also been checking out rehabilitation hospitals in Charlottesville and Baltimore, knowing that Ashley faces a long road ahead to recovery. "I want to find the one that's best for her," she said.
Meanwhile, Dubey is still reeling from the shock — her whole world has turned upside down since the accident. "I'm still going through the trauma — I can't believe it happened," she said. "Six weeks ago, I was looking for a summer camp for her. Now I'm looking for a rehab hospital. I'd hoped she could spend this summer swimming and having fun."
Doctors did an MRI on Ashley to see if she has possible damage on the left side of her brain because she's been unable to move her right arm or leg. They also wanted to see if her memory was affected, since that might impact her ability to speak.
"It's so scary," said Dubey. "I'm just praying she'll be all right."
For years, neighbors have complained about drivers speeding on Old Centreville Road and, since the accident, police have been monitoring motorists' speeds there. Nonetheless, said Dubey, "People are still speeding on Old Centreville Road — they drive amazingly fast."
To help raise money for Ashley's medical bills, Crofton Commons residents will hold a community bake sale, this Sunday, from 9 a.m.-noon, in front of the Giant Foods store on Stone Road in Centreville. Anyone wishing to donate baked goods may bring them to the event that day, or drop them off Saturday at 14503 Ravenscar Court, off Old Centreville Road in Centreville.
In addition a bank account has been set up for Ashley. Contributions, payable to Harsh and Dubey, may be sent to: Bank of America, 14122 Lee Highway, Centreville, VA 20120.