A local teenager who was seriously injured when her car collided with the back of a school bus has been released from the hospital and plans to return to classes at Columbus East High School after this week’s fall break.

The family of Lynley Arnholt, 16, Columbus, is trying to collect the names of the first responders who helped the teenager in the aftermath of her Sept. 22 accident in order to send them thank-you notes, said Lynley’s mother, Kristina Arnholt.

“We are just so grateful to everyone,” Kristina Arnholt said.

Family members brought Lynley home to Columbus on Thursday night from Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Lynley Arnholt was driving a Mazda passenger car behind a Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. bus traveling north on Gladstone Avenue at 3:46 p.m. Sept. 22 when the bus slowed to allow students to get off at 15th Street. Her car hit the back of the bus, with the driver’s side of the Arnholt car colliding with the back bumper of the bus and wedging underneath the bumper.

She suffered serious injuries and was airlifted from the scene to Methodist Hospital with a LifeLine helicopter using the nearby Greenbelt Golf Course as a landing and takeoff zone.

The teenager’s family said doctors confirmed that Lynley suffered a cardiac episode while driving that caused her to pass out before her collision with the bus.

Columbus police and the family checked Lynley’s phone and determined it was not being used when the accident happened, Kristina Arnholt said.

As serious as the collision was, the circumstances of Lynley being unconscious and slumped over to the left when the collision occurred may have saved her life, her mother said.

In that position, she was somewhat shielded from a direct impact to her head from the collision, her mother said.

However, her mother said Lynley suffered severe injuries to the right side of her face, requiring seven hours of surgery.

Lynley also suffered a back injury, two brain bleeds and was classified as having a severe traumatic brain injury, her mother said. However, cognitively, Lynley has passed each test the doctors gave to her, leading them to believe that the brain bleeds are resolving on their own.

“She wants to be an emergency room doctor, and she would often spend three hours studying at the library a night,” her mother said. “The doctors said now it might be four or five hours of studying a night instead.”

Lynley has a marathon of doctor’s appointments, about 10 already set, as the family continues to followup on the facial surgery, but her mother said the family is grateful that at this point they are dealing mainly with cosmetic issues.

Just before the accident on Sept. 22, Lynley had left East and was driving toward Columbus Regional Hospital where she needed to sign paperwork for a new part-time job she had just accepted in the hospital’s dietary department, said her mother, who is an emergency room nurse at Major Hospital in Shelbyville.

The East junior, who is vice president of the Columbus FFA chapter, told her family she doesn’t remember the collision with the school bus. Doctors in Indianapolis told the family it is apparent Lynley had passed out prior to the impact with the bus, her mother said.

Prior to the accident, Lynley had been undergoing testing by neurologists, cardiologists and sleep doctors about periodic episodes she was having, her mother said.

However, it wasn’t until she was monitored closely at Methodist following the accident that doctors determined the problem was a cardiac issue leading to her losing consciousness, that is now being evaluated as part of her care, her mother said.

Lynley will be under some restrictions as she returns to school. She can’t participate in soccer, competitive cheerleading or tennis as she had planned, and there is no running at all at this point, Kristina Arnholt said.

And she won’t be able to show animals such as her swine project, needing to avoid any chance of falling or having another head injury, her mother said.

One bright point for the family and for Lynley is that Kristina Arnholt is expecting a baby girl in the next month or so and the family has decided to let Lynley name her new sister.

“We want to give her something to look forward to,” her mother said.

How to help

The Columbus FFA is working with Lynley Arnholt’s family to create a fund at Old National Bank, 3805 25th Street in Columbus, to help the family with medical expenses.

Donations that have been made through the FFA will be deposited in that account. Anyone who wishes to donate to help the family with ongoing medical expenses should stop in at the 25th Street branch and let them know the donation is for Lynley Arnholt medical expenses.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.