The last thing Ginny Frings remembers as she headed home with her twin toddlers tucked safely in their car seats was pumping gas at a Shell station, getting coffee at a drive-through and merging back onto the highway. She was on her way home to Lynchburg, Va., after a four-day visit with family in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It was around midnight, the kids were in the back sleeping and Frings still had three hours of driving to go. Overall, though, it wasn’t bad. In fact, she liked the quiet of late-night drives. It gave her time to think.
There weren’t too many cars on the highway as she pulled her Chrysler Sebring convertible east onto Interstate 40. But as she sipped her coffee, a pair of headlights loomed up in front of her. It was a car. Going the wrong direction. On the interstate.
Everything went black.
Frings, an accountancy professor at Lynchburg College at the time, remembers nothing of the accident. She awoke seven days later in intensive care with broken bones and internal injuries. She wasn’t supposed to live. The other driver, barreling west in the east-bound lanes, smashed into her head-on while eluding police who had tried for miles to stop her.
Frings has undergone 12 surgeries as a result of the accident—so far. Her entire left side, from her head to her feet plus both hips, had to be repaired. She underwent months of rehabilitation, learning all over how to walk and use her left arm. Just being able to pick up a Cheerio was a milestone. And she loves to tell how she learned to walk at the same time as her toddlers.
Today, seven years after the accident, she’s a mixed bag of healed bone, titanium plates and screws, including a replaced hip. But she has regained her agility. Most important, though, the twins, Faith and Eric, survived unharmed. A sheriff’s deputy remarked at the time it was fortunate they were secured properly in their car seats. That fact and the accident were enough to launch Frings on a crusade to protect all children.
This fall, Frings began teaching business at Xavier, and she brought with her all the promotional materials for Safety Angels, a non-profit group she heads dedicated to educating the public about the proper use of car seats. Frings is a tireless advocate for car seat safety and ticks off surprising facts: 95 percent of child car seats are improperly installed; 81 percent of parents with such seats think they have installed them correctly; car crashes remain a leading cause of child death and injury. The group produces safety fairs, DVDs and printed materials, and sponsors a web site at www.safetyangels.us.
Frings is amazed at how far she and the organization have come. At one point, she realized that everything, even the pain, is relative. The whole experience could have been worse, and she’s even writing a book about it. “What got me through was my faith in God, my children and my passion for wanting to help,” she says.