ROSCOE – Gabrielle “Gabi” Collier, 13, is excited to start a new school year at Roscoe Middle School after recovering from a near-fatal jet ski accident in the summer of 2018.
Gabi and her mom, Jill Collier, met with the Daily News on Friday to give an update on Gabi’s miraculous recovery and their thoughts on boating safety post accident.
“We had a lot of support. It was a tough recovery but I just feel like we are a year out and it’s becoming history,” mom Jill Collier said.
When asked when Gabi might board a jet ski again, her mother joked, “when she is 101.”
Gabi, who battled germ cell cancer at age 2, always was a fighter. Daughter to Bill and Jill Collier and sister to Hononegah junior Jack Collier, she loved to be active as a dancer and in the outdoors. She obtained her Illinois boating license at age 12.
The accident happened when riding a jet ski near the Rockton boat ramp off Main Street. Gabi was zipping along when she started heading for the shore and made a quick turn to avoid it. Thrown off the jet ski, she struck her head on a tree hanging over the water and landed face down in the water.
Her cousin Lucas Domberg, now 18, sped over on his jet ski and pulled her out of the water. Lucas started swimming her back to the boat ramp until his brother Zachary Domberg, now 20, met him halfway and was able to bring her to shore.
Once Gabi was transported to State of Illinois Designated Children’s Hospital at Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital and Physician Clinic-Riverside, doctors determined her skull was fractured by a stick lodged in it. Concerned about infection and possible brain damage, doctors rushed her into surgery where they discovered the first piece of good news – the debris had not broken through the blood-brain barrier. After a sedation for five days to minimize brain swelling, Gabi was brought out of her unconsciousness and, surprisingly, recognized everyone and remembered the accident.