Crossposted to ahamoments, wtl, and freak4jesus
A difficult time in life
By KATHY GRESEY, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, August 7, 2006 1:55 AM CDT
Two nights before Lake Villa resident Kristen Anderson tried to commit suicide, she went to a New Year’s Eve gathering and did not come home.
Before she left for the gathering on that night in 1999, Kristen asked her parents to extend her curfew to 3 a.m. They wanted her to return 30 minutes after midnight.
“We just said ‘no,’” her mother, Jan, said. “That wouldn’t be a good idea.[Kristen] pretty much knew she wasn’t going to come home that night.”
And Kristen didn’t.
A 17-year-old senior attending Antioch Community High School at the time, the friendly and popular girl had become rebellious after a series of people in her life had died, and older boys began giving her trouble.
Kristen said she remained silent about a rape that occurred because she had a hard time accepting it. She didn't know how to talk to friends or family about her problems.
“I walked around, and I was like, ‘Life sucks,’” the now 24-year-old said. “I had a bitter, negative attitude.”
When she finally returned home around 10 a.m. New Year’s Day, Kristen's parents decided to punish her by taking away her Christmas presents and car privileges. They grounded her until “further notice.”
The material and social punishments hit the teenager hard. She slept the rest of the day.
Jan. 2, 2000
After waking the next morning, the Andersons went to church in Antioch.
That afternoon, Kristen’s father, Bill, went shopping for appliances, and her mother started to un-trim the Christmas tree.
Later, while Jan took a short nap, Kristen went for a walk.
When Jan awoke, she saw a note on the washer: Mom, went for a walk, need some time to think. See you later, love always, Kristen.
Hours passed, but Kristen did not return home. Jan walked to nearby Lehmann Park to try and find her daughter. She also tried to reach her by pager.
What the worried mother did not know at the time was that her daughter was near the park, sitting on the edge of a freight car, contemplating whether she should take her life.
“I was right there by her,” Jan said, “but I couldn’t see her. I tried calling her name.”
After picking up a paycheck and buying a pack of cigarettes, Kristen went to Lehmann Park. But she left because it was dark, and she didn’t want the police to take her home.
She walked toward the train tracks and hopped onto the edge of a freight car, something she had never done.
“I started thinking about why I wasn’t going home, and I really thought things weren’t going to get better,” she said. “I didn’t want to kill myself, but I wanted [my life] to be over. There was a real battle in my mind.”
Part of that battle was spiritual, Kristen added. Having grown up in the church, she realized that God wanted her on this planet. But she did not know what she was meant to do on earth.
For roughly half an hour in the freezing cold, Kristen contemplated whether her life was worth living. Then, she heard a train coming and compulsively laid her body on the tracks.
“I didn’t want it to have time to stop,” she said. “I laid down right before the train.”
Fifty-five freight cars passed over Kristen's body; both of her legs were severed.
Kristen said that as the train passed over her, it felt like a powerful wind was pushing her body down. When the train stopped, she didn’t know whether she was dead or alive.
“I really didn’t know what to think,” she said.
Conductors on the train saw Kristen before impact. They called 911.
Bill Chebny, a volunteer Lake Villa firefighter, was nearby at the time and heard the train sound its horn.
“I just got this funny feeling in my stomach when I heard that train horn,” he said. “And then my pager went off.”
While Chebny and others headed toward the accident site, a still-conscious Kristen was coming to grips with what had happened.
After realizing her legs were detached from her body, the injured teen became frightened.
“I started freaking out,” she said. “And then I got really peaceful.”
Kristen said she didn’t know whether she was dying, but when others arrived on the scene, she began to get angry inside. She didn’t want help, and she didn’t want to be alive.
“I remember all this like it was yesterday,” she said.
Chebny recalls examining Kristen, asking her where she felt pain.
“In the calmest voice ever, she said, ‘I know my legs are gone, but I don’t have pain anywhere else,’” he said. “I was taken aback.”
The Kristen Anderson story
Kristen Anderson's story will be told in the Weekly Journals over five weeks.
Part one: Meet Kristen and learn how a typical girl began to lose hope about life.
Part two: Read how Kristen came to the conclusion that her life was not worth living on a cold night in January 2000.
Part three: Enter the world of a recovering amputee and discover how she found Jesus Christ.
Part four: Learn about an event that aims to help Kristen finish school and begin ministry work.
Part five: Discover how the community comes out in support of a 24-year-old woman