ALTOONA, Iowa -- Every day, 26-year-old Whitney Albertson takes the short walk from her job as a dietitian aide at Prairie Vista Village retirement community in Altoona to her apartment across the street. But on Valentine’s Day that all changed.
“All of a sudden I got hit by this truck,” Albertson said.
Dragged under the vehicle, Albertson remembers it all.
“I didn't black out or anything,” Albertson explained. Finally [the truck] stopped and I crawled out.”
Half of her face was ripped off, a sight her boyfriend, Dalton Cooper, can't get out of his head.
“Half her face was literally torn off and it was really bizarre,” Cooper said. “I was able to keep calm, but it's something that [on] Valentine’s Day you're not supposed to see your girlfriend with her face off. You’re supposed to be at dinner.”
A couple surgeries later, with still more to come, Albertson has a long recovery ahead.
“Just regular things,” Albertson said. “Brushing my teeth is difficult.”
The daily struggles are leaving her in a difficult situation financially, not able to work her job at the retirement community or her second job at Family Video in Altoona. Cooper is also having to take a leave of absence from work to care for her for the time being.
“We went from a couple with four incomes to a couple with one,” Cooper said. “I do freelance writing on the side, and that's on the side. So I was like, ‘OK, we should probably ask for help.’”
Her boyfriend decided a Facebook fundraiser was the best option, but they never could have imagined the outpouring of support they've received.
“I'm astonished just at how many people reached out,” Albertson said. “Even just messages from people who I haven't talked to in so long just reaching out asking how I am, that they are thinking of me. It's overwhelming. I'm overwhelmingly grateful for them.”
Nearly $13,000 has been raised in five days. Some of the donations are from people the couple says they don't even know. And it's all to help a young woman hopefully get back to 100 percent.
“My shoulder should heal fine, the shoulder blade that broke, and then my road rash should [heal too],” Albertson said. “My face, they really have no idea. They don't know if my eyelid is going to work again and if it doesn't then, like what happens then. I don't know. I'm just trying not to think that far into the future and day-by-day.”
On top of her two jobs, Albertson also goes to school at DMACC hoping to someday work in forensics or become an autopsy tech. If you would like to donate to her fundraiser, click here.