Newport woman continues recovery

NEWPORT – “Amazing” is the word Newport resident Rick Tustin uses to describe both his wife Kathy’s ongoing recovery from a motorcycle accident and the efforts of the community to assist the family.

“Far as I’m concerned, it’s been a miracle,” said Rick Tustin, 57.

Kathy Tustin, 55, was critically injured in a June 30 crash in which her motorcycle went through a camper trailer being pulled by a truck that had lost control and come into her path on U.S. 22 near Zanesville. Now four different benefits are planned in a little longer than a month to help the family with the expenses incurred during her treatment.

“She’s just a well-known person in the community and has always been a very giving person of her time and herself,” said Joani Reese, 54, a friend of Kathy Tustin’s for more than 30 years.

Rick Tustin said his wife sustained a broken neck, three fractures to her right arm, four fractures in her back, two broken ribs, a cracked pelvis and a brain injury in the crash. She was taken by medical helicopter to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where she stayed for 37 days, 18 of them in the surgical intensive care unit.

The case has been turned over to the prosecutor’s office, according to a trooper with the Zanesville post of the Ohio Highway Patrol. She did not know the status of charges Wednesday.

Rick Tustin was working in Tennessee for Marietta-based Cascade Drilling at the time of the accident, and the company paid an employee to drive him the nine hours to Columbus to be at his wife’s side, where he remained until they returned to Newport on Aug. 6.

“It was awesome. She was ready to come home,” Rick Tustin said.

Kathy Tustin returned to Beech Grove United Methodist Church this past Sunday and is now in physical, occupational and speech therapy, the latter related to memory issues caused by the brain injury.

“She’s willing and ready. She wants to get better,” Rick Tustin said. “She’s amazed a lot of people with how well she’s doing.”

But the medical expenses, coupled with the fact that Kathy cannot work now and Rick has been on medical leave, are exerting financial pressure on the couple. Friends and community members hope to relieve some of that with a series of benefits starting a week from Saturday.

“We appreciate everything everybody’s doing,” Rick Tustin said.

Up first on Aug. 24 is the fifth annual SSC Fest, a set of live music performances held at the Spinning Wheel on Ohio 7 in Newport and organized by Snortie’s Cabin Crew. A group of friends started the event in honor of their buddy Ronald “Snortie” Stewart following his death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, said Newport resident Derrick Tacy, a member of the SSC Committee.

Each year the event raises money for a member of the community in need, and Kathy Tustin was chosen as this year’s recipient.

The next event is a spaghetti dinner on Aug. 25, in the Newport Elementary School cafeteria. Reese is helping to organize that and said the response from the community has been tremendous.

“There’s not been one penny out-of-pocket expense because businesses and people have been so generous,” she said.

Reese said Kathy Tustin had worked as an aide to students with special needs in the Frontier Local school district and has served as a Girl Scout leader and done a lot of volunteer work with her church.

In addition to food, the afternoon will include a 50/50 drawing, country store and auctions. Among the items up for grabs are a brand new chainsaw, quilts and homemade pies prepared by “some of the best pie-makers in town,” Reese said.

Kathy Tustin was also chosen as the recipient for funds from the third annual community yard sale in Newport, slated for Aug. 30-31 in the old gym at Newport Elementary. People wanting to contribute items can contact organizer Ann Lyons at 304-893-3936.

Marietta resident Melissa Mugrage and her husband are organizing a poker run for Kathy Tustin on Sept. 28. The event will start and finish at the Outpost on Ohio 550 just outside Marietta, with the five stops still being determined, she said. Outpost owners Joe and Barb Kidd are donating the use of their facility, as well as food for the event.

Like Reese, Mugrage said she’s had no problem finding people willing to help Tustin.

“She’s the closest thing to heaven on this Earth, I’ll tell you,” she said.

Even people without motorcycles can participate in the run, doing all of their die rolls at the Outpost, Mugrage said.

Additional activities will include a Harley-Davidson country store and door prize and themed basket auctions. Anyone who wants to donate can text Mugrage at 336-8682.