STALEY, NC (WFMY) - A Ramseur Elementary School teacher was seriously hurt in a car accident involving an impaired driver Tuesday morning on NC Highway 49.
Erica Castillo, of McLeansville, was driving southwest on 49 near Shady Grove Church Road. Just before 7:30, Taylor Griffin's car crossed the centerline on a curve and hit Castillo head-on according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol. The crash caused Griffin's 2016 Chevrolet and Castillo's Honda SUV to go off the road. Castillo's SUV went down an embankment and came to rest.
Castillo, 29, was taken to UNC Trauma Center with serious injuries. Griffin, 26, was taken to Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital with injuries that weren't life-threatening. Highway Patrol said Griffin was under a drug-based impairment.
Griffin was initially charged with a DWI, but her prior record bumped the charge up to Aggravated Felony Serious Injury by a Motor Vehicle, Driving While Impaired, Driving While License Revoked and Driving Left of Center.
WFMY News 2's Jessica Winters sat down with Erica's husband, Tony Castillo, just hours after Erica got out of her second surgery on Wednesday afternoon.
"Honestly my heart just sank, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I felt helpless."
He said when he first learned of the crash, doctors didn't know if she would make it through the night.
"Erica is still in a lot of pain and she just looks at me and she just tells me it sucks, every time they move her -- she almost cries from the pain," Tony said.
The list of injuries she sustained, is extensive.
"She had a broken back, she had some ligament damage in between her spine, she has a broken sternum, she has two broken ribs, she has a broken pelvis, she had to have surgery for a broken femur in one leg, and fibia and tibia in the other leg, a broken tailbone and she also has some broken bones in her foot."
Tony says he is just thankful she is alive.
"I don’t think Thanksgiving will ever mean what it meant to me this year because there were just so many things that aligned for Erica to still be here, because had one of those things not been the way that it was - then we would be having a different conversation today."
There will be a benefit for Erica on Thursday night. A Castillo family friend is hosting a "Brews to Benefit Erica" event at Preyer Brewing Company from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The address is 600 Battleground Avenue in Greensboro.
There is also a GoFundMe Page to support her medical costs.
Castillo says he couldn't have gotten through this difficult time without the support of his father, friends and Crossfit Greensboro family. Many people have visited Erica at the hospital, and even spent Thanksgiving with her.
"I’m just glad we’re here to do this together."
He also says Ramseur Elementary School has been very supportive.
"Some students did make some cards for her, Ramseur Elementary has done a phenomenal job."
Trooper Brandon Baker said Ms. Griffin must still be in the hospital as well, since she has not been processed at the Randolph County Jail yet.