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Tokay High students rally around injured classmate

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Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 10:00 pm

Tokay High School senior Tiffany Adams was supposed to act in the school’s upcoming performance of “Hamlet.”

But a head-on collision early Sunday morning just east of Interstate 5 on Highway 12 has changed those plans.

Adams, 17, suffered a broken arm and a serious spinal injury that paralyzed her lower body in the two-car collision. Doctors are unsure whether she’ll walk again.

She was the only survivor of the accident, which claimed three lives.

Tiffany Adams
Tiffany Adams

The well-liked student was in critical but stable condition Wednesday. She was taken by air ambulance Wednesday afternoon to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a San Jose hospital specializing in spinal injuries, where she will likely undergo surgery soon, relatives said.

“She’s strong-willed. I think that’s why she’s still with us,” said Adams’ aunt, Chris Mendes.

Now, Tokay staff and a legion of students have joined with family members to rally around Adams, to support her, to hasten her recovery.

“I really want her to come back to school,” said a friend, Angela Gervasi, 17, who was looking forward to graduating with her.

“If I have to carry her to get her diploma, I will.”

The collision has rocked the close-knit family, Mendes said. The girl’s parents, Dan and Judy Adams of Lockeford, and Jackie Adams of Stockton, are distraught, she said.

Family members and friends had camped out at San Joaquin General Hospital for the last few days to support the young woman once nicknamed “Hollywood” by a relative because of her stylish fashion sense.

More than a hundred students flooded the county hospital’s intensive care waiting room and hall following the collision, said Pam Pettis, a family friend.

How to help Tiffany Adams

Donations can be made to Adams’ trust fund at Pacific State Bank, account No. 1015497, 6 S. Eldorado St., Stockton, CA 95202.

Tokay High School will hold a blood drive for students, school staff and community members from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at the school, 1111 W. Century Blvd. in Lodi.

Blood donors can also designate Tokay High School’s account if they donate at other Delta Blood Bank locations. For more information about blood donations, call (209) 943-3830.

“The outpouring of gifts, sympathy and support has been incredible,” Pettis said.

A trust fund has been set up at Pacific State Bank for Adams, she added.

The school will also be holding a blood drive from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 27 to credit a blood bank account for Tokay students and school staff which Adams can tap into to help defray medical costs.

The Lockeford resident was headed home Sunday, riding with friends Jessie Yaw, 21, of Manteca and Crystal Peppin, 21, of Lockeford. Yaw, driving a 1991 Hyundai Excel, and Peppin died at the accident scene.

The other car’s driver, 23-year-old Sara Sutton of Lodi, was also killed.

Sutton’s 1988 Buick Skylark traveling west on Highway 12 drifted into the eastbound lane and struck Yaw’s car head-on, said California Highway Patrol officials.

School officials were stunned by news of the accident.

Pat Drouin, Adams’ school counselor, said she has faith that Adams will recover and come back to graduate in June.

“If there is one student at this school that will make it, she will,” she said.

Adams drifted in her career goals from fashion design to teaching or counseling, Drouin said. She planned to attend a community college after high school.

Drouin said Adams was taking a class to learn how to work with children as an instructional assistant. She worked for a month with a kindergarten class at Lakewood Elementary School.

The class motivated her to consider pursuing a career centered around children either as a teacher or counselor, Drouin said.

Pettis said the fun-loving girl buckled down to improve her grades this year. She was looking forward to graduation and college, she said.

Though Adams didn’t participate much in school activities, she found a passion in performing, said Dominee Muller-Kimball, Tokay’s drama teacher.

Adams was looking forward to playing Osrich, the character who informs Hamlet of a sword duel in the play’s last act, Muller-Kimball said.

The student had just begun rehearsing the part last week, she said.

Hamlet was to be her first performance in a play at the school, Muller-Kimball said.

“She is very enthusiastic about it,” she said.

It was impossible not to like Adams, said Gervasi.

“She was always smiling,” she said. “She never had a frown on her face.”

Gervasi said Adams has been greatly missed at school.

Adams enjoyed shopping, a kick-boxing styled exercise called Tae Bo, and listening to oldies, friends said.

Spending time with family was also important to Adams.

She has a younger sister, 15-year-old Katie. She also has three grown siblings — Sean, Jeanette and John.

The future of the tawny-haired teen with a flawless face is not entirely uncertain.

She will likely face rehabilitation after back surgery, which could take several months, Pettis said.

“She’s got a battle ahead of her, but she’s strong.”

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